Monday, January 10, 2022

To Get More Money from Moscow, North Caucasus Republics Falsify Census to Claim More Residents than They Have, Raksha Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 21 – To ensure that they get more subsidies from Moscow, the governments of the republics in the North Caucasus have falsified the census returns in order to claim that they have far more residents than is in fact the case, according to independent demographer Aleksey Raksha.

            “’The champion’” in this regard, he says, is Ingushetia which has no more than 330,000 residents judging from other data, but it is reporting that it has 515,000, more than 50 percent greater than is fact the case (

            But Ingushetia is not alone. Daghestan claims to have 500,000 to 800,000 more residents than it does. Kabardino-Balkaria has boosted its reports by a quarter or a third, Karachayevo-Cherkessia by nearly 50 percent, with Kalmykia not far behind. Chechnya, North Ossetia and Adygeys look more honest claiming only 10 to 15 percent more people than they have.

            This is more a regional than an ethnic problem, Raksha suggests. Neighboring Krasnodar and Stavropol Krays are among “the most falsified Russian-language regions of Russia both regarding election statistics and covid ones. Compared to the republics, they look more honest, but compared to other Russian regions, they don’t.”

            The evidence showing the boosting of figures is conclusive; but as of yet, there is no evidence that the ethnic numbers have been manipulated. If that had happened, people would have complained. They haven’t. But of course, it is possible that distortions in those figures will be introduced later in the processing of the census data.

            The massive falsification of numbers “always is done at the local level” republic by republic, and reflects the desire of the republic heads to claim as many people as possible so that they will get the maximum subsidies from Moscow. If they have more people, they get more money; and if they get more money without the people existing, they can pocket the difference.

            While Chechnya’s claim of 100 percent participation in the census is nonsense, Raksha continues, that republic has been relatively honest in reporting its numbers because it high birth rates and high death rates are well documented via other means. But it too has problems of the same kind.

            A major way that the republics can boost their populations without appearing to lie outright is not to count as permanently departed those who have gone to work in other parts of Russia but assume that they are still residents of the places they were born. That isn’t true, but it allows them to claim large numbers of people who aren’t around.

            Another result of this approach is that such people are counted twice, once in their home republics and once in Russian regions where they are living. That allows Moscow to claim a larger overall population than is in fact present, and that in turn may be one reason why the central authorities have not cracked down on what the North Caucasians are doing.

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