ISSN 2330-717X

Russia: 2020 Census Will Finally Take Place Next Month, Third Census To Be Delayed – OpEd


The 2020 Russian census will take place next month, with all residents of the country asked 33 questions, including about whether their housing includes indoor toilets and has an Internet connection but now about their incomes and with everyone having the right to refuse to answer any or all questions.

Pavel Smelov, the deputy head of Rosstat, the state statistical agency which oversees this enumeration, says that Russian will be able to choose to answer online or to census takers face to face. Russian citizens will be presented with 33 questions, and migrant workers will be asked seven (

The Rosstat official says that census takers take people at their word. According to the census supervisor, “there aren’t so many jokers. During the last census we had about a thousand representatives of fantasy nationalities like trolls and goblins, and there are women who give their age as less than it is.”

Russians can refuse to answer any or all question but the one that seems to give people the most difficulty is their identity as members of this or that nationality. If people refuse to answer, “we cannot force him to.” In that event, there will be only two lines filled in, sex and age, data “we take from administrative sources.” In 2010, about 5 percent refused to answer.

Rosstat is still recruiting census takers as many people find the work too difficult. Each is charged with interviewing 550 people. They are given computers and are paid 18,000 rubles (240 US dollars) for a month of work. Some people want to feed them but others treat them badly and so all too many census takers quit.

Preliminary results from the census will be released in the second quarter of 2022 and final results in the fourth quarter of that year. This is the 12th national census in Russian history. It is the third to be delayed from its scheduled time. The 1897 census and the 2000 census were delayed because of financial problems; this one because of the pandemic.

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Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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