Staunton, May 18 – Since Vladimir Putin began his expanded war in Ukraine in February 2022, at least 17 Russian government ministries and agencies have stopped publishing data arguing that its release would help Russia’s enemies and their sanctions regime. But in a few cases, the Kremlin has reversed itself because of the needs of businesses.
The “To Be Exact” portal has been collecting data on the increasing classification of statistical information and reports that at least 14 agencies stopped putting out data during the first year of the war and that three more have done so since that time (tochno.st/materials/zasekretili-statistiku-s-fevralya-proshlogo-goda).
The actual numbers of government agencies classifying or otherwise restricting the release of data is likely higher, the portal says; but the 17 it lists can be confirmed by the examination of open sources past and present. Most but not all of the data now being classified concerns the economy, and that has generated pushback by business.
Many businesses, banks and insurance companies need the information the government had been releasing to do their jobs, and the portal notes that some of the data that was classified over the last 16 months is now being released once again, albeit typically in smaller and more infrequent amounts.
At the same time, the portal points to two kinds of data that have been seriously restricted and that make it more difficult to assess social and political developments in Russia. Those include information on the number of immigrants and the number of prisoners. Some data has been released but nothing like the amount earlier.
The issue of immigration is one of the most sensitive among Russians; and data about prisoners could allow experts to calculate just how many criminals have been recruited by the Wagner Group for fighting in Ukraine (cf. alternative efforts to come up with numbers on this at windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2023/01/40000-of-50000-russian-criminals-wagner.html).