Ethnic group. According to the 2002 census, there are nearly 190,000 Roma, or Gypsies (tsygane), in the Russian Federation, thus making them a significant ethnic minority. The major subgroups are Ruska Roma, who arrived in Russia from Central Europe in the 18th century, and Vlach Roma, who came to Russia from the Balkans in the mid-19th century. Roma are originally of Indian origin; however, a millennium of residence in Europe has diluted or erased any links to the subcontinent. Many Russian Romani speak a dialect of Romanes, the Romani language, which is Indo-European in origin and is related to Panjabi, Hindi, and other Indic languages. Most Roma profess Russian Orthodoxy.
   Sedentarized and culturally marginalized during the Soviet era, some Roma have reestablished their cultural identity in postindependence Russia. However, their difference in physical appearance from Slavs and their popular association with street crime have made Roma frequent targets of neofascists, including a particularly violent spate of pogroms in the early 1990s. Discrimination against Roma remains high, and unlike in the case of Roma in the European Union, Romani political identity is almost nonexistent. At the same time, there are well-established Roma cultural institutions that date back to the Stalin era. Certain aspects of Roma culture are quite popular with Russian people, with many concert halls presenting traditional singing and dance performances, and there is currently a popular television series based on Roma culture.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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