Chronicles of the Russian Population Census

"I set my dog into action; the thieves dropped the fridge and scattered."
The population census started in Russia two days ago, October 9. The census is revealing a number of important problems in the country: there is poor organization of the census itself in some places; in some cases, for instance, people demand that the authorities should guarantee uninterrupted power and electricity supply in exchange for participation in the census. In any case, the census is underway, although not always smoothly.

It is strange, but people employed to collect personal data for the census are sometimes attacked. On the other hand, criminals are using the very convenient opportunity to break into apartments under the guise of census agents. They are sometimes successful with their trickery.

People often tell funny stories connected with the census, and some of them appear in newspapers. Here is one of them. Two census agents appeared in a gardening community, where people live in summer cottages during warm weather mostly, in the Moscow region early on October 10. However their shabby appearance rose the suspicion of the watchman who was on duty at that time. What is more unusual, the two men wrote down data in an ordinary school copy-book, not in official census papers developed especially for the census. When sometime later the watchman saw the “agents” trying to steal a refrigerator, he understood that they were trying to pull something. What the watchman said about the accident is partially funny, but at the same time really dramatic: “I set my patrol dog into action;the thieves dropped the fridge and scattered.”

It is said that several bus drivers were fired for having a rude attitude toward the census agents in the Krasnoyarsk region.

It is astonishing, but there are people who participated in the first census in 1897 who are still alive: three women live in the Perm region of Russia. They were born in 1896 and 1897, and can’t remember the details of the 1897 census for quite obvious reasons (they were too young and don’t remember how it was held). And the real old-timers remember all the previous population censuses in 1920, 1926, 1939, 1959, 1970, 1979, 1989 perfectly well.

The Russian radio station Echo Moskvy reports that aggressive Vietnamese and Chinese in the Russian city of Birobidjan didn’t let census agents into their apartments. Local authorities say that the incident was settled without the help of police. It is still a problem whether it will be possible to take a census of the Vietnamese and Chinese, who are mostly illegal in Russia. Many of them even don’t speak Russian.

Russian parliamentarians are also paying attention to the population census in Russia. Today, Duma Deputy from Tatarstan Fandas Safiullin said that census papers developed especially for President Putin were false: there was a Native Language column, although nothing of the kind is mentioned in regular census papers offered to the people in Russia. Safiullin says that Vladimir Putin and his family were deceived. That is why the deputy thinks that Chairman of the Russian Statistics Committee Vladimir Sokolin should be invited to a Duma session to explain the situation. However, the initiative was rejected by the majority of Duma deputies. It is very likely that more interesting and even amusing incidents will occur during the census; we will continue to follow the census and report the most interesting incidents.

Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Maria Gousseva

Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/10/11/48271.html

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