Old Believers in Independent Latvia

Old Believers in Independent Latvia

With the foundation of an independent Latvian state in 1918 a new stage in the life of the Old Believers began. In November 1920 the first convention of Old Believers in Latvia was called, at which the Central Committee for the Affairs of Old Believers in Latvia was set up, and the basic principals of the organisation were determined, as well as the activities of the Old Belief communities.

For the first time in their history the Old Believers started to receive financial assistance from the state, some parishes and comunities received allotments of land from the state fund. New communities were created, old churches were repaired and new ones built.

Old Believers became involved in political life, participating in elections to the Saeima (the parliament) and municipalities. The following Russian politicians with an Old Believers’ background were elected to the Saeima: Melety Kallistratov (MP in all 4 terms of the pre-war period), Stephan Kirillov, Ivan Yupatov, Grigory Yeliseyev, Timofey Pavlovsky. Professor Ivan Yupatov was head of the Russian Section of the Ministry of Education of Latvia for over 10 years.

Societies that had been set up in Tsarist Russia continued to operate and new ones were created. The most well known amongst them were: the Old Believers’ Society of Latvia, the Grebenshchikov College in Riga, the Grebenshchikov Society for the Education of Poor Children in Riga, the Daugavpils Old Believers’ Brotherhood, the I.Sinitsina Rēzeknes Old Believers’ Almshouse, the Old Believers’ Singing Society, and others. Co-operative and credit societies were established too.

The development of education and culture among the Old Believers is inseparably linked to the name of Ivan Zavoloko (1897 – 1984), researcher, specialist in early texts, teacher and pedagogue, author of more than 150 publications and graduate of the Russian Faculty of Law in Prague. He was head of the ‘Circle of Enthusiasts of Russian Antiquity’ between 1927 and 1940 and was editor of the ‘Rodnaya Starina’ (‘The Antiquity of our Homeland’) magazine.

The Grebenshchikov Community of Old Believers in Riga was the leading spiritual centre of the Old Belief. The Old Belief church calendar, and the Nastavnik (‘Mentor’) magazine were published in Riga. The All-Latvian Courses for Teachers of God’s Law were organized by the council of the community. Sunday schools were run by the Grebenshchikov Community as well as by other Old Believers’ communities.

According to the population census of 1930, 45.15% of the Russian minority citizens of Latvia (or more than 91,000) were Old Believers.

In 1939 there were 91 communities of Old Believers in Latvia.

Иван Заволоко. О старообрядцах г. Риги

Борис Инфантьев. Русские писатели о рижских и латгальских староверах

Борис Инфантьев. Латвийские староверы в творчестве латышских прозаиков

Т.С.Макашина. Песни и сказки русского населения Латгалии

Владимир Никонов. Из истории Режицкой кладбищенской старообрядческой общины (1858-1940 гг.)

Татьяна Фейгмане. Русские в довоенной Латвии

Татьяна Фейгмане. Депутаты-старообрядцы в латвийском Сейме

Список старообрядческих организаций Латвии

Некоторые статистические данные о количестве староверов и православных в Латвии (1897-1935 гг.)


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