Wednesday, April 17, 2019

More than Five Million Russians Not Given Chance to Declare Their Nationality in Last Census, Tishkov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 17 – Academician Valery Tishkov, former Russian nationalities minister and a senior advisor to Vladimir Putin on nationality issues, says Russia’s Federal Agency on Nationality Affairs must be upgraded to the status of a state committee and must immediately focus on the nationality section of the upcoming 2020 census.

            The second task is especially urgent, Tishkov says, because in the 2010 census, some who gathered data did so by using state records than by speaking directly with people. As a result, “5.6 million citizens of Russia were left without a nationality simply because no one asked them what it was” (

            That must not be allowed to happen again, the academician, who has been actively involved in the preparation and processing of all post-Soviet Russian censuses, argues, because the country needs accuracy on this point as well as all others. The implication of his words, however, is that everyone wants to declare a nationality, a view he has not always been associated with.

            Tishkov’s criticism of the way in which census takers acted in order to save money or time is only the latest indication of the many problems Russian censuses have – and despite his call are likely to have again next year.  Many residents of Russia don’t want to respond to census inquiries, and officials have difficulties with coming up with accurate numbers as a result.

            However, Tishkov’s own suggestions about how the census should deal with nationality, including allowing people to declare themselves members of two or more ethnic communities at once and to register as members of a sub-ethnos rather than just a nation or nationality, are controversial ( and

            How this will play out over the next year before the census and the year or two after during its processing very much remains to be seen.

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