Saturday, March 21, 2015

Crimeans Find a New Way to Protest Russian Occupation -- via the Census

Paul Goble
            Staunton, March 21 – There are many ways that the powerless can protest their status – jokes, indifference and contempt, among them.  But some residents of Russian-occupied Crimea have come up with a new one – they’ve come up with some invented nationalities to show what they really think of their new Russian overlords.
               The occupation authorities conducted the census last October but released the results only last week. Most people answered in conventional ways, although the Russian officials said that some did not want to answer any questions at all and others provided answers that suggest that they didn’t take the Russian measure at all seriously.
            Among the “nationalities” some in Crimea declared were Elves, Hobbits, Goblins, Orcs, and Martians -- or “simply a human being” or “a resident of the world.”  Others said they were Arians, Scythians or Novorossiyans. Moscow may not be unhappy with the latter, but it can hardly welcome the former (
             There are, of course, precedents for making such declarations. Small but statistically significant numbers of Russians made similar declarations in the 2002 and 2010 censuses in that country, apparently because they wanted to invoke their constitutional right to declare any nationality they want or not to declare one at all.
            Indeed, for many in the Russian Federation, that right which has been trampled on by the Putin regime which wants to fix the nationalities of its subjects as tightly as possible is a terribly important one because it gives people a freedom they never had in Soviet times to decide who and what they are.
            Now, some in Crimea are asserting the same right because they too want to be free, a status that the Russian occupation forces oppose and certainly have reason to fear.  If the residents of Crimea refuse to fit in to the categories Moscow has established, Russian officials will have another problem that they don’t know how to cope with – except by force and lies.

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