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About Russia

Nations of Russia

The Greeks

There are Greeks in many Russian regions, but the largest numbers are found in the Black Sea area - in Stavropolskaya Oblast and Krasnodarsky Krai.
Language: Greek, belongs to Greek group (some speak Russian, Turkish, Tatar)
Religion: Greek Orthodox Christians
Diaspora: Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Georgia.

Greeks are the titular nation of Greece, and emigrants from Greece have established diaspora communities in different corners of the world. There is a large Greek diaspora in the USA.

The term "Greek" is applied today to persons who speak variants of modern Greek, and to members of diaspora communities who consider themselves Greek.
Greeks have been involved in the lands of the Black Sea region of Russia and the CIS for more than 2000 years, since before the foundation of the first Russian state. Greeks developed trade relations with the Scythians in the years between 750 and 500 B.C. Greek city states established colonies along the Black Sea coast, and it is likely that Greeks have resided among the Scythians in the interior as commercial wayfarers or settlers. The conquests of Alexander the Great brought hellenized eastern rulers to power in the Greek Black Sea colonies until the Romans had conquested the area by the 1st c. A.D.
The Roman and later Byzantine provinces on the Black Sea maintained active trade relations with the interior regions to the north and east for centuries. The Black Sea trade became increasingly important for the Byzantine empire as Constantinople became the imperial capital, and as Egypt and Syria was lost to Islam in the 7th c. At the same time, Byzantium was becoming more Greek than Roman in its official character.
Byzantine missionaries were active among the steppe peoples north of the Black Sea, like the Alans and the Khazars. Most notable were Cyril and Methodius of Thessalonica, who later became known as the apostles of the Slavs.

Scandinavians and/or Slavs from The Kievan Rus' principality, that was founded in the 9th c., raided Byzantine Black Sea possessions and also made seaborne attacks on Constantinople in the 9th and 10th c. Gradually, raiding changed to trading, and many also joined Byzantine military service.
In the later Middle Ages, Crimea became an area of rivalry between Rus', Byzantines, Genoese, Mongols, Tatars and other peoples. Greeks have made up a significant segment of the population of the Crimea into modern times.
Byzantine power in the Black Sea region gradually faded, but the Byzantines gained tremendously in cultural and political influence with the baptism of Prince Vladimir of Kievan Rus' in 988 and the subsequent Christianization of his realm. The post as metropolitan of the Orthodox church in Russia was, in fact, with few exceptions, held by a Byzantine Greek all the way to the 15th c.
Throughout the period of the rise and fall of the Mongol Golden Horde in Russia and the rise of the new unified principality of Muscovy around 1400, Byzantine Greeks continued to emigrate to the Russian lands, making important contributions to Russian culture.
With the fall of the Byzantine empire in the 15th c., there was an exodus of Greeks both to the West and to Russia. Together with the marriage of Byzantine Sophia and Russian Ivan III, this provided a historical precedent for the Muscovite political theory of the Third Rome, positing Moscow as the legitimate successor to Rome and Byzantium.
Greeks continued to migrate to Russia in the following centuries. Many sought protection, aid and livelihood in a country with a culture related to their own. Greek clerics and soldiers and diplomats found employment in Russia and Ukraine. Many Greek merchants came to make use of privileges that were extended to them in Ottoman-Russian trade. Russian military operations in Greek lands during the Russo-Turkish wars of the late 18th c. brought many Greeks to settle within Russian boundaries, primarily people who collaborated with the Russians in these wars. Many also came to settle in newly acquired Russian lands as part of military settler regiments.
According to Greek sources, there were over 500.000 Greeks in tsarist Russia prior to the Russian Revolution, between 150.000 and 200.000 of them within the borders of the present-day Russian Federation.
The numbers and general condition of Greeks in Russia changed drastically with the Russian Revolution and the subsequent Civil War. Most of the Greeks were engaged in trade or other occupations that made them "class enemies" of the Bolshevik government. In addition, Greek forces participated in the Civil War against the Bolsheviks in 1919.
Appr. 50000 Greeks emigrated between 1919 and 1924. When diplomatic relations were established between the Soviet Union and Greece in 1924, the Soviets pressed Greece to repatriate more Greeks from Russia, although Greece already had more than 1,5 million refugees from Turkey to take care of. An agreement was reached, however, allowing Armenian refugees in Greece to settle in Soviet Armenia in exchange for some 70.000 Greeks repatriated from the Soviet union.
In the Stalin era, many Greeks were deported to remote parts of the Soviet union, and Greek Orthodox churches, Greek-language schools and other cultural institutions were closed.
During World War II, the Greeks first suffered under Nazi occupation of the Black Sea area. Then in 1944, when Crimea was liberated in 1944, most of the Greeks of Crimea were exiled to Kazakhstan, along with the Crimean Tatars.
The last major immigration of Greeks to Russia and the Soviet Union began in 1950, as supporters of the Communists in the Greek civil war of 1949 became political refugees. Over 10.000 of them ended up in the Soviet Union.
After de-Stalinization under Khrushchov, Greeks were gradually allowed to return to their homes in the Black Sea region. Many have emigrated to Greece since 1956.


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