Bolivian DNA: Russian Traces . Old Believers, intermarriage & Soviet students

Colourful, fascinating and diverse, Bolivia lures adventurers from across the globe. TV host and journalist Pavel Selin is no exception: he’s been dreaming about seeing the country high in the Andes for 25 years. He travels from Russia, to discover a land of spectacular beauty, indigenous people, coca leaves and ‘Brother-President’ Evo Morales. Pavel’s longtime friend, Ramiro Rivero, will guide him through his Bolivian journey.

While Bolivia is best known as home to the largest indigenous population in South America, it also harbours a unique community of Russian religious dissenters, known as Old Believers. In this episode, Pavel and Ramiro meet the diaspora living in the village of Toborochi. 

The Old Believers keep the religious practices of the Eastern Orthodox Church prior to Patriarch Nikon’s 17th-century reforms. Given it’s a closed community with strict discipline, Pavel and Ramiro are only greeted by their leader, Martyan. He tells his guests why the Old Believers still wear traditional clothes worn centuries ago, and how they look for spouses among other Old Believers as far as in Alaska. 
Old Believers aren’t the only Russians in Bolivia. Russians are building a nuclear research centre in the country. 

From high-level cooperation to building family ties, the two meet Alyona and Sergio, a Russian-Bolivian couple, who talk about their shared differences and similarities. 

To finish their search for a Russian footprint in Bolivia, Pavel and Ramiro join a party of former Bolivian students, who went to Soviet and Russian universities. 

What do you think?

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