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Belarusian diaspora in Latvia

Belarusians constitute the second largest ethnic minority of the country in Latvia (3,4 per cent of the population at the beginning of 2016 or 66 thousand of people).

The majority of Belarusians live in large towns: Riga, Daugavpils, Liepaja, Ventspils, Jelgava, as well as in small towns of the Latgale region.

There are a number of Belarusian public organizations in Latvia, among them  “Svitanak” and “Pramen” (Riga), “Uzdym” (Daugavpils), “Spadchina” (Ventspils), “Zlata” and “Lyanok” (Jelgava), “Mara” (Liepaja), “Suzorye” (Rezekne), “Spatkanne” (Jekabpils), “Vesyelka” (Kraslava) and others. The main goal of their activity is to promote the Belarusian culture, language and traditions, to preserve the national identity of the Belarusians in Latvia.

Several Belarusian organizations joined the Union of Belarusians of Latvia. From 1994 the Union of Belarusians of Latvia has been publishing the Belarusian-language newspaper “Pramen”. From 2015 the Belarusian cultural society “Uzdym” (Daugavpils) publishes the newspaper of the same name.

The Republic of Belarus attaches special importance to the development and support of the Belarusian School in Riga, which from 2011 was named after Yanka Kupala. In 2013 a memorial plaque made in Belarus has been placed at the school’s building, and a museum composition was opened at school, which is devoted to the great Belarusian poet, dramatist and publicist’s life and work. In January 2015 the school celebrated its 20th anniversary. The school is attended by ethnic Belarusians and children of other nationalities.

The Baltic Union of Belarusian artists “Mayu Gonar” is functioning in Latvia, which is organizing its personal exhibitions and is participating in different exhibition events.

The Belarusian Information Center is functioning in the Academic Library of the University of Latvia, targeted at providing books, legal and tourism information about Belarus, and organizing cultural events.

On a regular basis Belarusian organizations in Latvia hold different events focused on promotion of Belarusian traditions, culture and language, and preservation of national identity (the Days of Belarusian culture, exhibitions of Belarusian artists, celebration of Belarusian winter holiday “Kalyadi” and summer festivity “Ivan Kupala Day”, etc.). The well-known annual events in Latvia are organized by Belarusian organizations in Ventspils (“From Ligo to Kupala”), Daugavpils (“The Belarusian Fair”), Jelgava (“The Week of Belarusian Culture”). The folk-ethnographic ensembles, established in most Belarusian societies, actively participate in the Festivals of Belarusian folk art in Latvia and Belarus.