The Old Belief in the modern Latvia

The Old Belief in the modern Latvia

In the late 1980’s the democratisation of the Soviet society enabled the restrictions of the Church’s activities to be lifted. In February 1989 a convention of Latvian Old Believers was held, at which the Central Council of the Pomorian Old Orthodox Church of Latvia was created. In October 1989 the Old Believer Theological College was opened – for the first time in the Soviet Union.

After the independence of Latvia had been restored the Latvian parliament adopted a law allowing religious organisations the return of their rights to own church buildings, land and other property, belonging to them before 21 June 1940. The restoration of property rights let the communities develop economic and charity activities according to Old Belief traditions. Repairs and restoration works were begun in prayer-houses. New prayer-houses were built.

In 1994, on the initiative of Old Believer businessmen and scientists the Old Believers Society of Latvia was re-established (initially founded in 1908). Later the I. N. Zavoloko Old Believer Society, the Belovodye (‘White Water’) Old Believer Society and others started their activities. In 2007 the Daugavpils Cultural Society was registered.

In 1994 the first conference on the history, and traditions of the Old Belief was held in Riga. Around 20 similar religious and scientific conferences have been held in recent years in Latvia.

There are currently some 80,000 Old Believers living in Latvia, and 70 Old Belief religious organisations have been registered. The majority of these communities are found in Latgale, 2 in Rīga, one in each of Liepāja, Jelgava, Kalnciems and the Talsi region. In 2007 the Old Believers Community in Ventspils was registered.

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