Staunton, Mar. 13 – Russian officials are radically overstating the number of Ukrainians who have fled into the Russian Federation as a result of the war. Moscow is now saying there are more than five million Ukrainian refugees there, with the number constantly rising; but the real numbers are far fewer, Konstantin Troitsky of the Civic Assistance group says.
The United Nations says there are approximately 2.8 million Ukrainian refugees in the Russian Federation, but even that number is likely far too high other data suggest, he continues (tochno.st/materials/v-rossii-nakhoditsya-bolshe-5-millionov-bezhentsev-iz-ukrainy-po-krayney-mere-tak-govoryat-rossiyskie-vlasti-skoree-vsego-eta-tsifra-zavyshena-v-neskolko-raz).
According to Troitsky, “the data which TASS uses most likely is taken from open FSB statistics about border crossings.” That means that it includes as refugees people who have come and gone several times or who have gone to Russia and then moved on to other countries as that became possible.
“Russia lacks normal statistics on refugees,” the expert says, because the Russian authorities have done away with the category of asylum seeker. As a result, his group cannot say what the real number of refugees is but only point out that it is “several times less” than TASS and Moscow officials who rely on TASS are given to saying.
Troitsky says that indirect measures of the number of refugees such as one-time payments to them also show that the number is not only smaller than TASS reports but also several times lower than what the United Nations is reporting.