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Ukrainians in Moldova

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    According to the 2014 census there were 181,035 Ukrainians in Moldova. Although Ukrainian settlement of Moldova predates that by Russians, and Ukrainians outnumber them, Moldovan Ukrainians have been heavily Russified, especially in urban areas. Many speak Russian as their first language (37 per cent).

    Ukrainians in Moldova are split between urban and rural populations. Almost half of the Ukrainians in Moldova live within the area of the Transnistria Moldovan Republic, where significant numbers assumed a Russian-speaking identity. Thirty-seven per cent of Ukrainians in Transnistria in 1979 spoke Russian as their native language and 80 per cent spoke Russian as their second language. Elsewhere in Moldova, however, the large number of rural Ukrainians speaking Ukrainian as their first language has meant that a Ukrainian identity separate from that of the Russian-speakers in Transnistria has been preserved.

    Historical context

    Most Ukrainians lined up with the Russians to oppose changes in language and unification with Romania. The Moldovan government made some efforts to encourage Ukrainian culture, schools and clubs, measures in part designed to split the ‘Russian’ bloc. Ukrainian concerns at large have in any case been allayed by Moldova’s shift away from a pro-Romanian orientation; ethnic Ukrainians in Transnistria, however, continue to support the de facto government of that region. At the same time the Ukrainian government has sought to promote cultural and language activities among Ukrainians in Moldova.

    According to reports some 70 ethnic Ukrainians from Transnistria organized a march to Kyiv in September 2004 to protest economic sanctions imposed on the disputed territory by Moldova. The de facto Transnistrian Minister for Foreign Affairs was quoted at the time as saying that some 20,000 inhabitants of the region hold Ukrainian passports.

    Current issues

    Although Ukrainian-medium schooling is available in Moldova, most Ukrainians learn Ukrainian as a school subject. The proportion of Moldovans speaking Ukrainian as a first language (2.7 per cent) is significantly lower than the share of ethnic Ukrainians in the country (6.6 per cent).

    Updated January 2018

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