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Roma children in Astrachan

The Ruska Roma (Russian: Руска́ Рома́), also known as Russian Gypsies (Russian: Русские цыгане), are a subgroup of Roma people, the biggest Romani group of Russia[1]. Initially were known as Xaladitka Roma (e.g. "Gipsyes-Soldiers"). Ruska Roma live mostly in Russia and Belarus, but can also be found in Eastern and Central Ukraine, France, Canada and the USA.

The group is descended from the Polska Roma who came into Russia in the end of the XVIII century[1]. The Ruska Roma language contains some German, Polish and Russian words and a small amount of Ukrainian and Russian grammar. Ruska Roma are Orthodox Christians[1].

Their traditional professions are horse trading, music, dancing and fortune-telling[1]. Today, most Gypsy singers, actors, dancers and musicians in Russia are of the Ruska Roma. Their musical culture is considered to be the leading Roma culture in Russia, and is copied by other Roma.

The Ruska Roma's traditional clothing is based on Russian and Kalderash national clothing and is actively used by singers and dancers. Modern Ruska Roma are one of the most educated Roma groups in Russia. They have many professions[1].


Ruska Roma in Russian history

At the very beginning of the XIX century there already existed Roma choruses consisting of Ruska Roma who were servants. They were considered to be so talented that their owners emancipated their Roma servants. Roma choruses of Moscow and Saint-Petersburg were very popular during all the XIX century. Russian noblemen sometimes married Roma chorus girls.

In country, Ruska Roma were nomadic horse traders and singers. They traveled during the summer and stayed in cottages of Russian peasants during the winter. They paid for their lodging with money or with work by their horses. Ruska Roma were very popular among peasants who liked their music and dances and considered Roma to be beautiful.

In 1812, when Napoleon I invaded Russia, the Roma diasporas of Moscow and Saint Petersburg gave large sums of money and good horses for the Russian army. Many young Roma men took part in the war as uhlans.

The Gipsy theatre

In the end of the XIX century Rusko Rom Nickolai Shishkin created a Roma theatre troupe. One of its plays was in the Romani language.

After the October Revolution, some Roma families escaped from Russia. Some young Roma men took part in the civil war. In the 1920s-1930s Roma of the USSR produced a literary norm of the Romani language that was based on a dialect of Ruska Roma. Roma literature and press appeared; most of the poets, writers and journalists were from the Ruska Roma. In the 1930s the Roma of the USSR were subjected to mass repressions. Roma press and literature were forbidden.

During WWII some of the Ruska Roma entered the army, by conscription and as volunteers. They took part in the war as soldiers, officers, infantrymen, tankmen, artillerymen, aviators, drivers, paramedical workers, and doctors. Some teenagers, old men and adult men were also partisans. Roma actors, singers, musicians, dancers (mostly women) performed for soldiers in the front line and in hospitals. A huge number of Roma, including many of the Ruska Roma, died or were murdered in territories occupied by the enemy, in battles, and in the blockade of Leningrad.

After WWII Ruska Roma's music became very popular. Romen Theatre, Roma singers and ensembles prospered. All Roma of the USSR began to perceive Ruska Roma's culture as the basic Roma culture. After the Decree of nomady interdiction (1956), the second wave of Ruska Roma settling happened.

In 1980s, some representatives of artistic Ruska Roma families made a considerable contribution to "informal" music: jazz (Valentina Ponomaryova), rock (Valentina Ponomaryova, Mikhail Zhemchuzhny Junior), Russian chanson (Alexei Dulkevich Junior).

In 1990s, Ruska Roma's music lost its popularity and now have quite a small audience, but is still popular at Russian weddings and birthday celebrations.

Famous Ruska Roma

  • Alexei Dulkevich-senior, Alexei Dulkevich-junior, Mikhail Zhemchuzhny-junior, Oleg Ponomaryov — musiсians
  • Nickolai Shishkin, Ivan Rom-Lebedev, Nickolai Pankov — theatre workers
  • Valentina Ponomaryova, Dmitry Buzylyov — theatre and cinema actors, singers
  • Dufunya Vishnevsky — film director
  • Mikhail Ilyinsky, Alexei Ilyinsky, Ivan Rom-Lebedev — writers
  • Stepanida Soldatova, Tatyana Demyanova, Varvara Panina, Alyosha Dimitrievich, Valentina Ponomaryova, Lyalya Shishkova, Vasily Vasilyev, Nickolai Vasilyev, Alyona Buzylyova, Ratmir Shishkov, Diana Savelyeva, Peter Yanyshov — singers
  • Natalya Pankova, Lyubov Pankova, Ilona Makhotina — science workers
  • Djura Makhotin — poet
  • Yan Reshetnikov — human rights activist, general of police


  1. ^ a b c d e Nomadic people. N.Bessonov. National Geographic Russia, April 2007

See also

External links



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