Staunton, Feb. 15 – At a hearing of the Duma Nationalities Committee devoted to why the number of Russian residents who did not identify as members of a nationality had tripled between 2010 and 2021, Sergey Okladnikov said that many had told the census that they no longer identify by nationality “as a matter of principle.”
The deputy head of Rosstat, the state statistics agency that oversaw the census, says that was one of the reasons that more than 16 million Russians did not have a nationality listed (duma.gov.ru/news/56404/ and nazaccent.ru/content/40010-zamglavy-rosstata-davlenie-nacionalnyh-liderov-povliyalo-na-otvety-rossiyan-na-perepisi-naseleniya.html).
Among other reasons Okladnikov listed were interventions by officials some of whom promoted nationality and others did not and the use of the Internet to respond to the census in which three million more people answered the native language question than did the nationality one, perhaps assuming that nationality would be automatically listed after they filled in language.
In response to questions from Duma deputies, the Rosstat official played down what is likely the largest factor responsible for the large increase in the number of residents of Russia not declaring a nationality – the fact that census takers filled in the forms on the basis of residence data without talking to many individuals (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2023/01/without-asking-russian-census-takers.html).
Okladnikov also did not devote much attention to what may be the second most important cause of this trend – the fact that officials ask for an individual’s nationality only in the census and thus ever fewer people in the Russian Federation now think about it (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2023/01/fewer-russian-residents-think-about.html).
But what is most striking is that members of the Duma committee expressed alarm about the 16.5 million residents of the country who are not listed by nationality. Ensuring that nationality survives and is counted is critical, they said and then told Okladnikov that his agency should come up with better ways to elicit such information.