Advertisement

Russian and Ukrainian migrants live happily side-by-side in Montenegro

In Montenegro, one in six people are either Ukrainian or Russian. And according to the preliminary results of last year's census, their numbers have risen sharply since Moscow launched its invasion two years ago.

According to the country's statistical office, the data show that Montenegro's population has increased by 2 per cent in the last 10-odd years, making it something of an outlier in southeastern Europe.

One of the main reasons for the increase is thought to be immigration – and the final results of the census are expected to confirm the information that Montenegro is the country with the highest number of migrants per capita from Russia and Ukraine.

There are thousands of people from both countries now living in Montenegro, and on the Ukrainian side in particular, many have arrived in the last two years seeking refuge from the war. But this does not mean the two groups are in conflict; in fact, they often live side-by-side.

The common good

At the Church of the Holy Trinity in the old town of Budva, Russians and Ukrainians sing together in the church choir at Sunday Mass.

"They feel that this is their home and all the differences between the people are reconciled here," says Priest Aleksandar Lekic. "This war does not suit anyone and everyone is praying for peace to come, and that is why they gather in this temple."

Between its Mediterranean climate and its Orthodox culture, Montenegro is an attractive destination for Russians and Ukrainians alike, and many of them now live here in peace despite the fierce war between their countries.

"We didn't have any troubles," say Russian couple Roman and Lucia Volubiuev. "They understand us and we understand them. We understand their situation, we understand why we are here ... the environment is just friendly."

The amity between Ukrainians and Russians living in Montenegro is a contrast, not just with the war between their mother countries, but with the atmosphere in the country that's become their home. The census that's now expected to show their numbers growing was only conducted after ethnic tensions forced it to be postponed four times.