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Hustling and Bustling in Conducting Census in Russia for First Time in 14 Years

Hustling and Bustling in Conducting Census in Russia for First Time in 14 Years

Posted October. 13, 2002 22:59,   


The recent census, which Russia has been conducting for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union, is spinning out numerous stories.

Russia’s National Statistics Commission is conducting the census since Oct. 9th to obtain a primary data on its population. But, due to lack of cooperation and knowledge on the part of its citizens, it is having a hard time.

In its Oct. 12th announcement, the commission certified, “The census is being done smoothly. It will be wrapped up by Oct. 16th.” Many people, however, cast doubts on the credibility of the announcement. The total period of time allowed for the census is 8 days. During that short period time, the commission has to question 147 million people living across a territory 78 times greater than the whole Korean Peninsula. Thus, the accuracy of the census is in a serious doubt.

Ever since the January census in 1989 by the Soviet Union, no new one has been conducted. Why? Simple they did not have money.

This census is funded by the donations Russian President Putin has collected from big corporations.

The biggest hurdle in conducting the census is the resistance and indifference of Russian citizens. Head of the commission is begging the Russians, “Please open your door to the researcher conducting the census!” But the Russians would not reveal their personal information. They do not believe in their government. And, even when some cooperate, they lie often. It’s because, in the past, their frank answers were abused and backfired on them.

Moreover, attacks on the surveyors have occurred more than 30 times. Some people just did so out of their dislike of the census. Others thought that the bags of the surveyors contained valuables. Most of the surveyors are part time college students, who say that what they are afraid of most is the dog.

In a case, the surveyors ended up finding a village empty of its residents. Due to the severe migration and change of the residents, the village has become empty and only ruins are left.

In response, the Russian government is trying to boost up the citizens’ cooperation through various promotional measures. In some localities, residents who answer questions are given gifts. In the far eastern part of Vladivostok, the local government has organized a government-sponsored demonstration to drum up the support for the census.

What most helped the census was the demonstrative answering by President Putin and his wife on the first day of the census. A beautiful college student surveyor visited the president’s official resident and conducted the survey for 18 minutes. President Putin sincerely answered even supplementary questions, which are for only 25% of the total population.

In the survey, President Putin gave the correct spellings of his second daughter’s name, and said that even though she is working hard on English, the only foreign language she can speak is German.

Ki-Hyun Kim kimkihy@donga.com