Staunton, Mar. 13 – Nail Gilmanov, a Tatar analyst based in Moscow, says that the nationality data reported by the 2021 census are “almost worthless” for many regions and cannot be counted on. But the pattern of falsification is instructive in that it highlights the decisions officials made about reporting these data.
He draws those conclusions on the basis of an analysis of the differences in the count of Tatars in Tatarstan, in Bashkortostan, and elsewhere in the Russian Federation. In this census, Tatars living in Tatarstan made up 40 percent of their total,; Tatars of Bashkortostan, 20 percent; and Tatars in other regions, 40 percent (milliard.tatar/news/perepis-2021-mense-vsego-poteryali-misarskie-regiony-a-v-moskve-tatar-okolo-150-tysyac-3061).
Between 2010 and 2021, the number of Tatars in Tatarstan rose 3.9 percent; their number in Bashkortostan fell 3.5 percent; and their number elsewhere, 28 percent. As a result, according to the census, the number of Tatars living outside their titular republic fell from 43 percent in 2010 to 35 percent in 2021.
The figures for Tatarstan are roughly accurate, Gilmanov says, given what is known about the relationship of births and deaths and the pattern of migration in and out of the republic. Those for Bashkortostan are slightly distorted in favor of reidentification of Tatars as Bashkirs but far less than many Tatars feared would be the case.
The situation elsewhere is very different, he continues. There, “the scientific value of the census data on the nationality composition of the population is almost zero.” Gilmanov examined the data from 30 federal subjects in which about 95 percent of all Tatars live and divided them into four groups.
The first group include well-off regions with rapidly growing population like the two capitals. There the undercounts of Tatars are entirely implausible. There is no reason to think that assimilation would happen so quickly and there is every reason to think that Tatars from elsewhere would have continued to arrive. Their numbers should have been stable or even risen.
The other three groups divide according to the size of the decline reported in the number of Tatars, from under five percent, between five and ten percent, and those with more than ten percent and in some cases as many as 20 percent. In all these places there was some falsification, but its size was far less than in the two capitals.
That strongly suggests, he implies that the Kremlin decided that it wanted Moscow and St. Petersburg to be presented as more Russian than they are and got what it wanted as far as the census returns are concerned. Elsewhere, there was some evidence of such conscious distortions but most of the decline reflected the use of data from sources where nationality wasn’t listed.