THE ROMANIANS FROM THE BALKANS IN THE RESEARCH OF THE XIX CENTURY RUSSIAN SLAVICISTS
Authors: Liliana ROTARU, Ion EREMIA
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Russia's political and geostrategic interest in the Balkans and Russian expansionism in this direction produced a whole literature in the 19th century, especially ethnographic and statistical literature about the Slavic people from the south of the Danube, but also about the ethnic communities that co-existed with them. In this study, the authors set out to identify information and considerations of the Russians about the Romanians from the south of the Danube in the researches of the Russian Slavicists from the 19th century. For the most part, the first Russian Slavicists were representatives of the Slavic ethnic groups, originally from the Balkan area, who studied at Russian universities and/or were employed in the service of the Russian emperor. The fact that those researchers knew southern Slavic languages, but also for the investigation purpose, had determined a more a statistical and descriptive character of these researches, with few analytical interventions. In the works analysed in the text of the study, the Slavicists attested an important presence of Romanians in the south of the Danube. Romanians were identified with different names rumuni, volhi, valahi, tintar, cuţovlahi etc., but all of them spoke the same language. Although the attested demographic share of Romanians in the Balkans was not very important, they were presented in all statistics made by the Slavicists as the 5th nation in the Balkans, after Bulgarians, Serbs, Greeks, Jews, Albanians or Turks. In this way, the interest of Russian researchers in a Christian-Orthodox nation increased. Although numerous, the Romanians in that region did not really matter. But due to the military and political interests of the Russian Empire in the Balkans, it was possible to preserve a very diverse and valuable information about the presence of Romanians south of the Danube.