Friday, February 17, 2023

Kremlin Ranks Managing Inter-Ethnic Relations as Its Third Most Important Task, Semigin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Feb. 15 – For the Presidential Administration, Gennady Semigin, chairman of the Duma’s nationality committee, only the special military operation in Ukraine and the socio-economic situation in the Russian Federation are more important tasks for the Kremlin than managing inter-ethnic relations.

            This is an extraordinarily rare acknowledgement by the Kremlin that it views the nationality question as being this important, especially at a time when Vladimir Putin insists that it has been solved under his watch and is not nearly as critical as it was before he became president.

            Semigin’s words are reported in additional coverage of the hearing he held at which Rosstat official Sergey Okladnikov discussed problems with the recently completed Russian census ( For a discussion of the initial reports of the meeting, see

            Among the other additional facts Kazan’s Business-Gazeta article reported, using not only statements at the hearing but an interview with Okhladnikov afterwards as well as comments by other experts are the following:

·       In response to the question on nationality, residents of Russia gave 2,000 different answers. These were then grouped into 194 ethnic communities, one more than in 2010 with the addition of the Alyutors of the Kamchatka peninsula who number 96.

·       In addition to a sharp increase in the number of people who identified as civic Russians (rossiyane), there was also a significant increase in the number of people who identified as Slavs or Caucasians.

·       Not later than 2026, Rosstat will conduct a mini-census to try out new questions and methods of collecting and processing information in advance of the 2030 all-Russian census.

·       Various experts said at the hearing and afterwards that it is critically important to determine exactly why it is that some people do not now want to declare their ethnic identity. Is it shame, ignorance or something else?

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