Is Russian Spoken In Romania? (Actually… Not At All)

Romania used to be a socialist republic on the eastern block with strong ties to Russia. In addition to that, the country shares its borders with Ukraine, a country where Russian is widely spoken, and Romanian, although not a Slavic language, has many Slavic loan-words, and some would even say, a Slavic sound to it.

This brings many to assume that Russian is spoken in Romania.

Well, it isn’t.

Not by many, anyway. In the eastern Romanian country of Tulcea, around 35.000 Lipovans speak Russian. Most of these migrated to Romania in the 19th century because they wanted the freedom to practice their religion, but despite their long history in Romania, they still, generally, speak Russian as a first language.

Even though the concentration of Russian speakers is relatively high in Tulcea, the Romanian Lipovans make up for only 0,1% of the Romanian populations of 20 million.

What about Russian as a second language, then?

Well, historically, Russian used to be an important second language in Romania, in a large part because of its ties to the Soviet Union. According to the European Commission’s Europameter’s stats in 2012, 1.53% of Romanians were able to speak Russian to a degree. These Russian speakers almost all belong to the older generation of Romanian, however, and the number is on a steady decline.

Since the fall of the East-Block, Romania has distanced itself from Soviet and Russian influences and neither popular music, films, TV, or other Russian-language media is common (or ever seen at all) in Romania today. Since 2007, the Russian government has run two institutes where the Russian language is taught for free to Romanian citizens, but despite this, very few Romanians learn Russian.

So I think I answered the question:

  • Around 0.1% of Romanians, or 35.000 people, the Lipovan (Russian) immigrants who mostly live in the Tulcea country of Eastern Romania speak Russian as their mother tongue.
  • Russian is spoken as a second language by a really small percentage of Romanians of the older generation.
  • Even though Russian was an important language in Romania during the times where it was part of the East-Block, today, Russian is really sort of unpopular in Romania.

And that’s all!

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