Russians in Lithuania

Russians In Lithuania

Russians in Lithuania

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First small early East Slavic settlements in what is now Lithuania date back to late medieval ages when the first proto-Russian merchants and craftsmen began to permanently reside in several Lithuanian towns. In the late 17th century they were joined by many Russian Old Believers who settled in eastern Lithuania, escaping religious persecution in Russia.

The second, larger, influx of Russians followed the annexation of Lithuania by the Russian Empire during the Partitions of Poland in the late 18th century. Under Russian rule, power in the region remained primarily in the hands of the Lithuanian nobility, but some administrative jobs were gradually taken over by Russians, who also settled in cities such as Vilnius and Kaunas. Also after the uprising of 1863 in Poland some estates had been confiscated from the local nobility and given to Russian officials. Many of the Russians who migrated to Lithuania were soldiers, sailors, and merchants.

Most of the present-day Russians in Lithuania are migrants from the Soviet era and their descendants. Following the terms of the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, the Soviet Union occupied and annexed Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia in 1940. After Germany attacked the Soviet Union in 1941, the three countries quickly fell under German control. Many Russians, especially Communist party members who had arrived in the area with the initial annexation, retreated to Russia; those who fell into German hands were treated harshly, many were murdered.

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