Lithuanians and Russians similarities | True Lithuania
True Lithuania

Are Lithuanians similar to Russians?

Lithuanians are different from the Russians on most key traits that define ethnicity. Lithuanians have their own Lithuanian language and they write using Latin script, not Cyrillic. Lithuanians are not even Slavs - together with Latvians, Lithuanians are Balts. Lithuanians are not Orthodox - they are mostly Roman Catholic.

While both the Russian and Lithuanian nations were ruled by the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, the statuses of them were greatly different, as Russians were the dominant nation while Lithuanians the nation under Russian domination (i.e. the relationship was similar to that between the Western nations and their conquered African and Asian colonies).

Currently, Lithuanians are orienting themselves westwards (EU, NATO) whereas Russia is creating its own Eurasian Union.

Lithuanians and Russians both are whites and (Indo-)Europeans, but that is about it.

Why so many people believe Lithuanians are similar to Russians?

Throughout the Cold War, it was common in the West to refer to "Soviets" as Russians in popular contexts (in the sports commentary, press, etc.) and many Westerners, therefore, still see the former Soviet Union as nearly all-Russian or all-Slavic.

However, by 1989, only 51% of the inhabitants of the Soviet-Union-held areas were actually Russians, even if they were the leading ethnicity. The rest of the Soviet Union was composed of extremely different ethnicities of multiple languages (Slavic, Turkic, Baltic, Fino-Ugric, Kartvelian...), faiths (Islam, Buddhism, Christianity...), races (European and Asian). In fact, the Soviet Union collapsed precisely because most of the people in the nations that achieved independence (including the Lithuanians) were extremely different from the Russians.

Ethnic map of the Soviet Union. Only the territories in red had Russian majority or plurality

Ethnic map of the Soviet Union. Only the territories in red had Russian majority or plurality and even that majority/pliurality in many areas was artificially created through planned population resettlement during the Soviet era itself

Why is the "Lithuanians are similar to Russians" myth so insulting to Lithuanians?

To an outsider, it may seem that such a genuine mistake as to consider Lithuanians to be similar to their neighbors Russians should not be insulting. Indeed, if somebody would call a Lithuanian to be a Swede, a Czech, or a Latvian, likely no Lithuanian would feel insulted.

However, to be called a Russian is insulting to many Lithuanians, because of history wherein the Russian Empire and the Russian-led Soviet Union have occupied Lithuania, persecuted Lithuanians and, under Stalin, perpetrated their genocide. When they are considered Russians, Lithuanians often feel that their freedom is negated and their past history is erased. After all, if not for the past occupations, they would likely not be mixed up with Russians by so many foreigners. Moreover, some of the past persecutions were done by the Russians precisely on the pseudo-historic basis that Lithuanians were simply "Polonized Russians": namely, in the 19th century, the Lithuanian language was banned in Lithuania by the ruling Russians in order to "restore the Russian origins" of Lithuanians.

Based on the historical relations between these two nations, mixing up Lithuanians and Russians makes many Lithuanians feel as insulted as Pakistanis are insulted after getting mixed up with Indians, or Jews and Arabs after getting mixed with each other.

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