Johnson's Russia List
13 November 2003
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A CDI Project
Census Shows Shifts in National Identity Within Russia
Moscow, 10 November: Russia's national composition has changed in the past
13 years. According to the results of the national census there are now
about 160 nationalities within the country - 24 more than were reflected in
the previous census, held in Soviet times in 1989.
This was stated at a news conference today by Vladimir Zorin, the minister
in charge of nationality issues.
Zorin pointed out that respondents defined their own nationality.
As before, most of the people within Russia regard themselves as ethnic
Russians (80 per cent or 116m), and also as before the second most numerous
nationality are the Tatars (5,560,000). Other nationalities exceeding 1m
are the Ukrainians (2,940,000), Bashkirs (1,670,000) and Chuvash, Chechens
and Armenians. A further 23 nationalities have a numerical strength of over
400,000, including Mordovians, Belarusians, Kazakhs, Udmurts, Russian
Germans and Ossetians.
Armenians, Azeris and Tajiks have gained in number from migration, Zorin
said, and the Chinese have gone from 5,000 to 35,000 in the past 13 years.
The numbers of Ukrainians, Belarusians and Russian Germans have declined by
Kryashens have appeared in a census for the first time since 1929 - they
number about 25,000. There are also 7,000 Christian Tatars. A total of
140,000 assigned themselves to a new nationality - Cossacks. Zorin
explained that the first census in Imperial Russia in 1897 categorized the
Cossacks as a social class. There were also those who described themselves
as pechenegs, polovtsy (ancient tribes) and elves, but they were few in
number, Zorin said. Some 800 self-descriptions cropped up in census returns.
Zorin also said that 1.5m people gave no indication at all of nationality,
two-thirds of them living in Moscow, St Petersburg and Moscow Region.
The government will adjust its nationalities policy in the light of the
census returns, Zorin went on to say, adding that Russia is regarded as the
most ethnically-diverse country in the world. European countries, for
example, average about nine nationalities.
Russian Minister: Census Explodes Immigration Myths
Moscow, 10 November: The national census has "confounded numerous myths"
about Russia's poor migration status, a news conference was told today by
Vladimir Zorin, the member of the government in charge of nationality matters.
The 2002 census showed that Russia does not supply migrants for other
countries, he said, but on the contrary takes them in from elsewhere and
has become "a country attractive to migrants".
"About 11m migrants have come here in the past 13 years and about 6m have
left. This means that our country is the third largest destination for
migrants after the USA and Germany," Zorin said.
The census also failed to confirm fears about the migration situation in
the Far East, showing that there are 35,000 Chinese in the country and not
millions as claimed by analysts, Zorin said. However, he acknowledged that
this figure represented a seven-fold increase. Talk of millions of Azeris
was also proved wrong, since there are just 62,000 in Russia. Zorin did not
deny the existence of illegal immigrants, but said the census figures
indicate they are not as numerous as feared. The census also showed that
most (up to 70 per cent) migrants work in the economy and are not market
traders, the minister went on.
Zorin announced that next year Russia will issue a quota of 436,000 jobs
for foreigners. A third of all foreign workers (30 per cent) will be
employed in the construction industry, 23 per cent in trade and catering,
12 per cent in industry, 7.4 per cent in agriculture and 2.4 per cent in
transport. According to Zorin, "on the whole, migration in Russia is
emerging from the shadows". Over 9m migration cards have been issued in
Russia since the beginning of the year.