Documentary examines the curious fate of Ruhnu island

Take note – story published 3 years ago

Latvian Television's series of short documentary films with English-language subtitles continues with a look at one of the quirkier aspects of Latvian and Baltic history -- how the island of Ruhnu (Roņu sala or Seal island in Latvian) in the Gulf of Rīga ended up as part of Estonia rather than Latvia.

Despite lengthy associations with Livonian territory over the centuries, and a geographical position that would tend to suggest it would belong to Latvia, it wound up one of Estonia's many islands instead of becoming Latvia's only island. Yet it was ethnically Swedish and the hardy islanders had a long history of deciding their own fate.

In 1919 efforts to woo them began, but it was the distribution of seals in Baltic waters that was to prove one of the decisive factors as the islanders started to wonder if Sweden might be a better option than either of the two fledgling Baltic states.

In fact there were opportunities for Latvia to take control of the island -- but none of them were taken. 

According to LTV "The Keys" series tells of the most important or "key" events, personalities and turning points in the history of the Latvian state from 1918 to the present. The purpose is to reveal each selected event from an unusual point of view, as if "unlocking the door" to lesser known and therefore particularly intriguing facts. 

"Such an exploratory approach, bypassing the usual stereotypes of presenting history, will allow viewers to perceive what is known to others and to better understand what has happened in the context of today's experience," says LTV.

Throughout the year, Latvian history will be told in 'mixed order' - events will not be sequenced year by year, but viewed in the exact month in which they occurred

The show is made by VFS Films, a long-time partner of Latvian Television and it is hosted by Mārtiņš Ķibilds, a distinguished cultural journalist who sadly passed away late last year.

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