Romanians in Ukraine

This article represents an overview on the history of Romanians in Ukraine, including those Romanians of Northern Bukovina, Zakarpattia Oblast, and Budjak in Odessa Oblast, but also those Romanophones in the territory between the Dniester River and the Southern Bug River, who traditionally have not inhabited any Romanian state (nor Transnistria), but have been an integral part of the history of modern Ukraine, and are considered natives to the area. There is an ongoing controversy whether Moldovans are part of the larger Romanian ethnic group or a separate ethnicity.

Romanian Ukrainians
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Chernivtsi Oblast (12.5%)
Zakarpattia Oblast (2.6%)
Predominantly Romanian (91.7%)
Predominantly Eastern Orthodox/Greek Catholic


Middle AgesEdit

Beginning with the 10th century, the territory was slowly infiltrated by Slavic tribes (Ulichs and Tivertsy) from the north, by Romanians (Vlachs) from the west, as well as by Turkic nomads such as Pechenegs, Cumans and (later) Tatars from the east.

Vlachs and Brodniks are mentioned in the area in the 12th and 13th century. As characterised by contemporary sources, the area between the Southern Bug and Dniester had never been populated by a single ethnicity, or totally controlled by Kievan or other rulers. Ukrainian historian Volodymyr Antonovych writes: "Neither the right bank, nor the left bank of the Dniester have ever belonged to Galician or other Ruthenian princes."

Since the 14th century, the area was intermittently ruled by Lithuanian dukes, Polish kings, Crimean khans, and Moldavian princes (such as Ion Vodă Armeanul). In 1681 George Ducas's title was "Despot of Moldavia and Ukraine", as he was simultaneously Prince of Moldavia and Hetman of Ukraine. Other Moldavian princes who held control of the territory in 17th and 18th centuries were Ştefan Movilă, Dimitrie Cantacuzino, and Mihai Racoviţă.

Modern AgeEdit

The end of the 18th century marked Imperial Russia's colonization of the region, as a result of which large migrations into the region were encouraged, including people of Ukrainian, Russian, and German ethnicity. The process of Russification and colonization of this territory started to be carried out by representatives of other ethnic groups of the Russian Empire.

While the Ruthenian ethnic element is fundamental for Cossacks, some[who?] have claimed a considerable number of Romanians among the hetmans of the Cossacks (i.e. Ioan Potcoavă, Grigore Lobodă (Hryhoriy Loboda), who ruled in 1593–1596), Ioan Sârcu (Ivan Sirko), who ruled in 1659–1660, Dănilă Apostol (Danylo Apostol), who ruled in 1727–1734, Alexander Potcoavă, Constantin Potcoavă, Petre Lungu, Petre Cazacu, Tihon Baibuza, Samoilă Chişcă, Opară, Trofim Voloşanin, Ion Şărpilă, Timotei Sgură, Dumitru Hunu), and other high-ranking Cossacks (Polkovnyks Toader Lobădă and Dumitraşcu Raicea in Pereiaslav, Martin Puşcariu in Poltava, Burlă in Gdańsk, Pavel Apostol in Mirgorod, Eremie Gânju and Dimitrie Băncescu in Uman, Varlam Buhăţel, Grigore Gămălie in Lubensk, Grigore Cristofor, Ion Ursu, Petru Apostol in Lubensk).[citation needed]

After 1812, the Russian Empire annexed Bessarabia from the Ottoman Empire. Romanians under Russian rule enjoyed privileges well, the language of Moldavians was established as an official language in the governmental institutions of Bessarabia, used along with Russian,[1] as 95% of the population was Romanian.[2][3]

The publishing works established by Archbishop Gavril Bănulescu-Bodoni were able to produce books and liturgical works in Moldovan between 1815 and 1820.,[4] until the period from 1871 to 1905, when Russification policies were implemented that all public use of Romanian was phased out, and substituted with Russian. Romanian continued to be used as the colloquial language of home and family, mostly spoken by Romanians, either first or second language.[citation needed]

Many Romanians changed their family names to Russian. This was the era of the highest level of assimilation in the Russian Empire.[5] In 1872, the priest Pavel Lebedev ordered that all church documents be written in Russian, and, in 1882, the press at Chișinău was closed by order of the Holy Synod.

Historically, the Orthodox Church in today's Transnistria and Ukraine was subordinated at first to the Mitropolity of Proilava (modern Brăila, Romania). Later, it belonged to the Bishopric of Huşi.[citation needed] After the Russian annexation of 1792, the Bishopric of Ochakiv reverted to Ekaterinoslav (modern Dnipro). From 1837, it belonged to the Eparchys of Kherson with its seat in Odessa, and Taurida with its seat in Simferopol.

The Soviet UnionEdit

The population of the former Moldavian ASSR, as a part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (Ukrainian SSR), had also suffered the Holodomor, the famine of the 1930s that caused several millions deaths in Ukraine.

Autonomous Moldavian Republic in Soviet UkraineEdit

Moldavian ASSR (in orange) and Romania

At the end of World War I in 1918, the Directory of Ukraine proclaimed the sovereignty of the Ukrainian People's Republic over the left bank of the Dneister. After the end of World War I in 1918, Bukovina (formerly ruled by Austria-Hungary) and Bessarabia were united with Kingdom of Romania; and after the Russian Civil War ended, in 1922, the Ukrainian SSR was created. Bukovina and Bessarabia were historically populated by the Romanians and Ukrainians for hundreds of years.

The very term "Ukrainians" was prohibited from the official usage and some populations of disputable Ukrainian ethnicity were rather called the "citizens of Romania who forgot their native language" and were forced to change their last names to Romanian-sounding ones.[6] Among those who were Romanianized were descendants of Romanians who were assimilated to Ukrainian society in the past.

As such, according to the Romanian census, of the total population of 805,000, 74% were Romanians;[citation needed] the number included the Ukrainians and other possibly related Ukrainian ethnic groups Hutsuls referred to as "Romanians who forgot their native language"[7] Among Russians who were Romanianized in Bessarabia were descendants of Romanians who underwent Russification policies during Russian rule.

The geopolitical concept of an autonomous Transnistrian region was born in 1924, when Bessarabian-Russian military leader Grigore Kotovski[citation needed] founded, under the auspices of Moscow, the Moldavian Autonomous Oblast, which on 12 October 1924 became the Moldavian ASSR of the Ukrainian SSR.

The intention of Soviet policy was to promote Communism in recently lost Bessarabia and surroundings, and eventually to regain the former province from Romania. (Soviet authorities declared the "temporarily occupied city of Chişinău" as de jure capital of the ASSR.) The area was 8,100 km2 (3,100 sq mi) and included 11 raions by the left bank of Dniester.

Moldavian SSREdit

Romania occupied (August 19, 1941 - January 29, 1944) the "Transnistrian" region between Dniester, Southern Bug rivers and Black Sea coast.

In 1940, under duress from a Soviet ultimatum issued to the Romanian ambassador in Moscow and under pressure from Italy and Germany, Romania ceded Bessarabia and Bukovina to the USSR. As many as 90,000 died as the Red Army entered and occupied the territory on June 28. The official Soviet press declared that the "peaceful policy of the USSR" had "liquidated the [Bessarabian] Soviet-Romanian conflict".

The Moldavian SSR was created from Bessarabia and the western part of the Moldavian ASSR. Bessarabian territory along the Black Sea and Danube, where Romanians were in the minority, was merged into the Ukrainian SSR to ensure its control by a stable Soviet republic.[8] The Romanian population of Ukraine was persecuted by Soviet authorities on ethnic grounds, especially in the years following the annexation until 1956;[citation needed] because of this, Russification laws were imposed again on Romanian population.[citation needed] In neighboring Bessarabia the same persecution did not have a predominantly ethnic orientation, being based mostly on social, educational, and political grounds.

Transnistria (WWII)Edit

Having allied with Nazi Germany, and having recaptured the territories occupied by the Soviets in 1940, Romanian dictator Antonescu did not heed the counsel of his advisers and continued to wage war on the Soviets beyond Romania's pre-war boundaries, invading parts of Ukraine and occupying the territory between Dniester and Southern Bug rivers. During this period the Romanian and German authorities and units deported to this region 147,000 Bessarabian and Bukovinian Jews, 30,000 Romanian Roma, and exterminated the largest part of the local Jewish population of this region. In 1944, the Soviets re-conquered the area.

Recent pastEdit

National Romanian Palace in Chernivtsi (2013)

In post-Soviet times, Ukrainian, the language of the historical ethnic/linguistic majority, is constitutionally the sole state language, and the state system of higher education has been switched to Ukrainian.[9]

In June 1997 Romania and Ukraine signed a bilateral treaty which included addressing territorial and minority issues.[10] By the terms of the agreement, Ukraine guaranteed the rights of Romanians in Ukraine and Romania guaranteed the rights of Ukrainians in Romania. There are schools teaching Romanian as a primary language, along with newspapers, TV, and radio broadcasting in Romanian.[11]

In 2015, several news websites published a report claiming that the Romanians of Northern Bukovina had formed a "Assembly of the Romanians of Bukovina" and demanded the territorial autonomy of the region from Ukraine. However, they were claimed to be fake and a product of pro-Russian anti-Ukrainian websites.[12][13]

Language and demographicsEdit

According to the Soviet 1989 census, Romanian speakers accounted for just under one percent of Ukraine's total population: 134,825 Romanians, and 324,525 Moldovans with the largest minority in Chernivtsi (approximately one fifth of the region's population).

Historical population
1926 1,530—    
1939 825−46.1%
1959 100,863+12125.8%
1970 112,141+11.2%
1979 121,795+8.6%
1989 134,825+10.7%
2001 151,100+12.1%
Soviet and Ukrainian censuses

Romanian communities in present-day UkraineEdit

Romanians in Ukraine - Oblast level (2004)[14]
Region Population
Chernivtsi Oblast 114,600 (12.5%)
Zakarpattia Oblast 32,152 mainly living in Tiachiv Raion with 21,300 (12.4% of the rayon population) and Rahiv with 10,300 (11.6% of the rayon population)
Odessa Oblast 724
Total 147,476
Raions with significant Romanian population (2001)[15]
Raion Population
Hertsa Raion 32,316, of which 91.4% Romanians
Hlyboka Raion 72,676, of which: Ukrainians: 34,025, Romanians: 32,923, Moldovans: 4,425, Russians: 877, and other: 426
Novoselytsia Raion 87,461, of which: 50,329 Moldovans, 29,703 Ukrainians, 5,904 Romanians, 1,235 Russians, 290 other
Romanians in Ukraine - settlement level
Settlement Population
Boiany It has 4,425 inhabitants, mostly Romanian (Moldovan).[citation needed]
Chernivtsi In 2001, population was 236,700, of which 189,000 (79.8%) are Ukrainians; 26,700 (11.3%) Russians; 10,500 (4.4%) Romanians; 3,800 (1.6%) Moldovans; 1,400 (0.6%) Polish; 1,300 (0.6%) Jews; 2,900 (1.2%) other nationalities.
Hertsa The town has a large Romanian community.
Hlyboka According to the 1989 census, the number of Romanians/Moldovans was 20.11%.
Krasnoilsk according to the 2001 Ukrainian census, the town had 9,142 people, out of which almost all are Romanians.[citation needed]
Novoselytsia The city has a population of 8,166 people, mainly Ukrainians, with an important Romanian community.

Culture and legacyEdit

Notable Romanians (or individuals with partial Romanian ancestry) in Ukraine include:

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ (in Russian)Charter for the organization of the Bessarabian Oblast, April 29, 1818, in "Печатается по изданию: Полное собрание законов Российской империи. Собрание первое.", Vol 35. 1818, Sankt Petersburg, 1830, pg. 222–227. Available online at
  2. ^ Ciobanu, Ștefan (1923). Cultura românească în Basarabia sub stăpânirea rusă. Chișinău: Editura Asociației Uniunea Culturală Bisericească. p. 20.
  3. ^ The Memory of (Im)Proper Names from Basarabia
  4. ^ King, Charles, The Moldovans, Hoover Press, 2000, ISBN 0-8179-9792-X, pg. 21–22
  5. ^ Colesnic-Codreanca, Lidia. Limba Română în Basarabia. Studiu sociolingvistic pe baza materialelor de arhivă (1812–1918) ("The Romanian language in Bessarabia. A sociolinguistic study based on archival materials (1812–1918)"). Chișinău: Editorial Museum, 2003.
  6. ^ Oleksandr Derhachov (editor), "Ukrainian Statehood in the Twentieth Century: Historical and Political Analysis", Chapter: "Ukraine in Romanian concepts of the foreign policy", 1996, Kiev ISBN 966-543-040-8
  7. ^ Harvard Ukrainian Studies, Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, 1988, p.191
  8. ^ Charles King, The Moldovans: Romania, Russia, and the politics of culture, Hoover Institution Press, Stanford University, 2000. ISBN 0-8179-9792-X.
  9. ^ INCONSISTENT LANGUAGE POLICY CREATES PROBLEMS IN UKRAINE, Oleg Varfolomeyev, EURASIA DAILY MONITOR, Volume 3, Issue 101 (May 24, 2006), available online at "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-08-22. Retrieved 2006-08-29.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ [1] U.S. Department of State
  11. ^ Dominique Arel, "Interpreting 'Nationality' and 'Language' in the 2001 Ukrainian Census," Post-Soviet Affairs, Vol. 18 No. 3, July–September 2002, pp. 213–249, available online in JRL #6535 at [2]
  12. ^ "Fals: Românii din Bucovina cer de la Poroșenko autonomie teritorială" (in Romanian). StopFake. 22 June 2016.
  13. ^ Melniciuc, Liubov (23 September 2020). "Inexistenta "Adunare a românilor din Bucovina" și varianta bucovineană a unui separatism inventat". EuroPunkt (in Romanian).
  14. ^ Center for the Prevention of Conflicts and Early Warning, Nr. 704R/June 19, 2004
  15. ^ File:EthnicChernivtsi 2001UkrCensus.png

External linksEdit