Thursday, January 12, 2023

Reasons for Declaring No Nationality in Latest Census Vary from One Nation to Another, Zorin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Jan. 9 – One of the most intriguing results of the latest Russian census is that the number of people declaring no nationality at all tripled from 5.7 million in the 2010 census to 16.6 million now, Vladimir Zorin says, the result of a combination of circumstances, some of which affected all of the peoples of the country and others that affected only one or another.

            The fact that the latest census was conducted during the pandemic undoubtedly played a role, the ethnographer says, given that when census takers could not interrogate people directly for their answers, no nationality could be recorded (

            That was true for the Russian Federation as a whole, but Zorin says that it is important to bear in mind that “a census studies not the number of people of specific nationalities but rather reports the responses of the population to questions about nationality” and “Russians, Tatars, Ukrainians and Mordvins  do not have the same answer to that.”

            The prominent Moscow ethnographer does not suggest what these variations may be besides indicating that numerically small peoples are less likely to do so than larger ones like the Russians and Ukrainians. But his words are likely to prompt more attention to this issue, especially with respect to those thought to be Russian but who did not declare themselves that.

            For background on this discussion and what the latest census results show concerning the Russian Federation's largest nation, the Russians, see this author’s report at


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