Staunton, July 31 – The census in Crimea that the Russian occupation authorities plan to conduct in October will be extremely detailed but may not be accurate because Moscow experts have already indicated that they believe that there are far more Russians in Crimea and far fewer Crimean Tatars than have been counted hitherto.
Such suggestions, made most prominently by Academician Valery Tishkov, a former Russian Federation nationalities minister and director of the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, almost certainly will be treated by Crimean officials as a mandate to come back with figures showing precisely that.
And those Crimean officials will be able to do so because the census they plan will be based as most censuses are not on documents but rather on declarations and these declarations, which may be extremely varied, will be grouped by those who process the census information according to their own rules.
Moreover, it seems very likely that just as many Russian speakers in Ukraine shifted their declared national identity from Russian to Ukrainian after the Soviet Union disintegrated, many of this group will now reverse themselves in Crimea, believing that the annexation will be permanent and that declaring oneself a Russian in that case is more beneficial.
Krymstat, the Russian occupation authority’s statistical body, announced this week that the census it plans to conduct in October will include 33 questions, including date and place of birth, citizenship, ethnic origin, migration, sources of income, marital status, and residence.
The statistical agency said that census takers will not require documentary confirmation for any of the declarations, that it will include foreigners resident in Crimea (although it did not indicate how they would be counted or grouped), and that it will focus in particular on those from abroad who have come to Crimea to work or study.
Each of these elements introduces additional possibilities for falsification and obtaining the results that the Russian authorities want.