Sunday, January 1, 2023

Tatars Suffered Huge Decline in Numbers in Last Decade while Bashkirs Didn’t, New Nationality Data from Latest Russian Census Show

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Jan. 1 – The number of Tatars living in the Russian Federation fell from 5.3 million to 4.7 million between 2010 and 2021, according to the newly released results of the 2020/2021 census, but the number of Bashkirs remained almost constant at 1.6 million, after a decline of only 12, 675.

            According to the census figures, the number of Bashkirs in Bashkortostan rose from 1.17 million to 1.27 million while the number of Tatars in that republic fell from one million to 974,500, trends that allowed the ethnic Russian share of Bashkortostan’s population to rise to 37.5 percent.

            Because of the holidays, the Rosstat website has not been updated but the nationality figures that it will likely report more fully later this month are being reported in the regions and republics and can be found at and

            The differences between Tatars and Bashkirs are likely to reignite Tatar fears that Bashkortostan has been manipulating the census and spark demands that the results be corrected. ( and

            Other non-Russian republics in the Middle Volga have also seen their titular nationalities decline in number. The Chuvash, for example, have fallen by 370,000 to just over a million. Such declines in the titular non-Russian nationalities has opened the way for ethnic Russians in many of them to increase their share since 2010, reversing a longtime trend.

            Another result from the nationality section of the 2020/2021 census now being released is the finding that 11.3 percent of the population of the Russian Federation no longer reports a nationality at all. According to at least one observer, the share of such people is greater among former Russians than others (  

            To the extent that is the case, it suggests that Russian ethnic identity may weaker than those of other nations within the current borders of the Russian Federation and that Russians are increasingly thinking of their identity in political rather than ethnic terms, while non-Russians, although declining in size, are not making that transition nearly as much. 

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