Ukrainians are the 4th largest community of Latvia, forming 2,2% of total population.

Ukrainians are the only large Latvia’s minority to date completely to the Soviet occupation, as there was no significant Ukrainian community in Latvia before World War 2. As Ukrainians were the second largest nation of the Soviet Union, they naturally made up a significant share of the Soviet settlers.

While many of the Ukrainians would have spoken the Ukrainian language natively at the time they came to Latvia, there were never any Ukrainian language institutions available in Soviet Latvia. Ukrainians were expected to integrate into a wider Russophone culture, which most of them did, speaking Russian to their own children. That’s why the Ukrainian minority is little visible today.

Ukrainian numbers peaked 3,5% in 1989. After independence, a third of them left Latvia. Today, however, the Ukrainian numbers are increasing again as migrants leave beleaguered Ukraine. These new Ukrainians of Latvia are often more patriotic and less Russified.

Public stands depicting the Ukrainian revolution of 2014
Public stands in Jelgava depicting the Ukrainian revolution of 2014. The fact that such stands are erected is a result of Latvian solidarity with all the nations that see the Russian threat, something that many Ukrainians began to see. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

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