Staunton, Nov. 13 – As the much-delayed 2020 census came to an end, Rosstat officials claimed that they had achieved more than 99 percent participation, a figure that both students who served as census takers and experts say was possible only by massive falsification of the data.
And this falsification involves some numbers and places more than others, affecting declarations of nationality and language use more than age and gender and apparently hitting larger cities rather than smaller ones because rates of non-participation are higher in the former than the latter.
The reason for these differences, independent experts say, is that census takers can fill in age and gender data by using other data banks but that they cannot without falsifying answer especially critical questions about nationality and language without talking to those about whom they want such information.
But as Sever-Real journalist Dina Vishnevetskaya concludes on the basis of conversations both with census takers and members of the independent expert community, the combination of these falsifications means that the authorities can get the numbers they want and that the value of the census is close to zero (severreal.org/a/tsena-takim-dannym-nulevaya-falsifikatsii-pri-perepisi-naseleniya/31557044.html).
One census taker, for example, told her that she was told to invent answers to all questions so that those above her could report that they had achieved nearly complete coverage. Another said that this process led to a report that she had talked to almost everyone rather than the reality in which she spoke with only about a third of the assumed number of residents.
Using other sources for such data as numbers, gender and age is not “criminal,” independent demographer Aleksey Raksha says. It was widely used in earlier Russian censuses as well, but inventing answers to other questions such as language and nationality represents a dangerous form of “falsification.”
And as a result of this innovation, the latest Putin census is perhaps the most inaccurate in the country’s history since at least the 1930s; and the inaccuracies it contains which reflect official wishes rather than reality are going to contribute to mistakes in policy formation because the powers that be don’t really know the country they are ruling over.