Staunton, June 24 – Despite Vladimir Putin’s claims that the pandemic is passing in Russia, yet another sign has emerged that it hasn’t and that other officials are having to take action because of that. The government is considering delaying the all-Russia census from October of this year to April of next.
According to Interfax, senior officials are discussing how to reallocate funds so that this can happen, although apparently no final decision has yet been taken about that or about the date for the census (interfax.ru/russia/714400 and nazaccent.ru/content/33452-smi-perepis-naseleniya-mogut-perenesti-na.html).
One of the consequences of such a delay will be a restoration of the Soviet practice of not holding censuses every year but holding them at more irregular intervals – after Stalin’s death, there were censuses in 1959, 1970, 1979 and 1989 – which complicates the analysis of the data in some cases.
But two others may be more important. This will give those who seek to use the census this time around to promote particular causes more time to organize. That includes Tatars and Bashkirs contesting for the identity of residents of portions of Bashkortostan, Circassians and Cossacks who want to declare common identities, and smaller nations who fear dying out.
And it means that more details are likely to come out not only about the upcoming census and its use of digital means but also about earlier censuses and what they say about the demographic development of ethnic Russians and other groups. An example of the first is the Interfax report about the possible delay.
An example of the second is a rare popular discussion of the first and most accurate Soviet census in 1926. It was supposed to be followed by one in 1933 but famine forced a delay until 1937 and when the results of that enumeration came in, Stalin had them classified because they showed just how many Ukrainians and others had been killed by his policies (politobzor.net/217815-chto-vyyavila-pervaya-perepis-naseleniya-v-sssr.html).