Narva, Tartu (Estonia) - Ivangorod, Pskov (Russia)
Description: Estonia shares with Russia a border line of total length of 460,6 km including sea, Lake Peipsi/Chudskoe and Narva Rive. Lake Peipsi is the biggest transboundary lake in Europe of which 44% belongs to Estonia and 56% to Russia. The Estonian – Russian border area is mostly rural area with total population of under one million people.
The study will be carried out in two transborder networks, to the North and to the South from the Lake Peipsi/Chudskoe.
Narva and Ivangorod are two cities situated on opposite sides of the river Narva. It is the third biggest town in Estonia with a population of 67,000 inhabitants, 93% of whom are Russian speakers. Ivangorod, on its part, has over 11,000 inhabitants. Both cities had historically been the battle field for the Protestant world and Orthodox Russia and had been passed from hands to hands several times, being a part of Swedish Kingdom and the Russian Empire. In 1920 Estonia became independent for the first time in its history and then as a part of Soviet Union. Nonetheless, belonging de jure to different administrative entities, de facto Narva and Ivangorod functioned as one city with common infrastructure, labour market and other opportunities. Many people lived in Ivangorod and worked on the other side of the bridge and vice versa, some had their summer cottages (dachas) and land plots on the opposite bank of the river.
In 1991 Estonia regained its independence, and the previously republican border became the border of two independent states Estonia and Russia, and later the external border of the European Union. For Narva and Ivangorod the emergence and strengthening of the border meant severe disruption of connections at all possible levels, from urban infrastructure, such as sewage and water supply, to family networks. Common labour market was also destroyed due to the establishment of strict border and visa regime between the two states and, therefore, two cities. Moreover, in the beginning of the 1990s many industries were shut down or started to shrink. As a result of these changes, in the 1990s both cities slipped in
economic recession and have not fully recovered ever since.
Although located on a distance of 50-60 km from the border, Tartu (Estonia) and Pskov (Russia) are important towns for this research since they function as two centers of gravitation for a vast transborder region of the lake Peipsi and rural areas to the South
from the lake. While the area to the North from the lake is characterized by industrialization and urbanization, the territories around the lake and to the South from it have traditionally been the lands of agriculture and fishery. Through centuries and up until now the lake Peipsi/‘Chudskoe region has been the meeting point of different cultures and religions.On the Estonian side, there are Estonians, Russians, Seto and Russian old-believers sharing the territory. Russian old-believers lead their history from resettlers who escaped from Orthodox persecution in Russia at the end of the 17th century. Today, this community
numbers about two thousand people, living in coastal villages by the lake. These people have been successful in retaining their lifestyle and religion up to date notwithstanding changes of times and political powers.
Another particularity of the region is the transborder cultural group of Setos that occupies the southern part of the border area. Now, this community counts about 4000 people, with only 100 people living on the Russian side of the border. Setos differ from Estonians by the Orthodox religion with elements of Paganism, and speak their own Seto dialect, close but not identical to Estonian. Among the Seto community, the traditional area of Seto settlements has got the name of Setomaa, ’the land of Setos’, and Petserimaa, ’the land of Petseri’ (Pechory in Estonian).
Elena Nikiforova, Centre for Independent Social Research (St Petersburg).
Karmo Tüür; University of Tartu, Academic Centre for Baltic and Russian Studies
Margit Säre, Peipsi Center for Transboundary Cooperation