Alexandr Gorobets: The Population census in Ukraine revealed many issues, first of all the language issue

astonishment are everywhere. The serious and important issue turned out to be completely unexpected. As in old times, the census schedule was not published, and nobody explained to the population which questions must be answered and which should not. So, when the accountants started to ask about incomes and about its sources, many people were indignant. Some of them refused to continue the conversation, explaining their decision with the violation of their constitutional rights. To this, the statistic institution’s representatives at once announced an administrative fine would be issued for this refusal at the rate of three to five minimal salaries.

Even questions were coming to law firms regarding if these demands are rightful, especially the threat with a fine. And it turns out, they are. The fines can be imposed. This is written in the Ukrainian Constitution. Therefore, at least one family member must answer the questions. However, everything he says will be taken on trust. None of the accountants can ask for sustaining documents. Therefore, it is possible to lie. So, in Ukraine a kind of forced-voluntary sociological anamnesis has started.

Everybody was surprised that the census was started just before the election. Many people are even afraid that the data of the census might be used in the election campaign and during the direct voting. On the other hand, the data could be interesting for some “competent” bodies securing law and order in the country. Moreover, the question about sources of incomes, consisting of about 15 sub-points could provoke the interest of the fiscal bodies. They could be interested in relations between apartment tenants and owners, which are not always registered with these fiscal bodies. The list of possible dangers for the population could be continued. People’s deputy Stanislav Nikolaenko supposes that the power intends to use the census’s information for its aims. Even people involved in this action were specially chosen by power bodies but not by statistic offices, as it probably should be. According to Nikolayenko, they were specially trained. They, for example, in more or less correct form, take an interest in what the citizens think about some things and if they will take part in the election. In this way, some political forces receive information at state expense, Nikolayenko said.

Lyubov Stelmakh, the chief of Ukrainian Statistic Committee’s population statistics department, tries to refute this. According to her, only general questions are being asked: about sex, birth place and date, citizenship, education, and so on. Moreover, the interrogators ask not about incomes but about their sources. Here, the citizens should only say either it is a scholarship, pension, or salary. Therefore, the information cannot have political or economical consequences.

During previous censuses, the same questions were being answered. The whole world carries out censuses in this way. There are also several questions where the profession and the title of the enterprise should be listed. However, here, it would be enough to say “I am working as a teacher” or “I am engaged in commerce." While writing about the enterprise, it would be enough only to state the settlement or even the region where this enterprise is situated.

People who rent an apartment also have nothing to be afraid of. The information will not be sent to fiscal institutions. The information is general, while more precise data belong to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. People who fear for their apartments can simple came out from them and give the information outside. At least, they can come to census area. The accounting clerks cannot ask any questions besides the proper ones.

However, the main troubles are connected with language. Pavel Movchan, the head of Prosvita all-Ukrainian public orgainization, was the first who expressed the view that the percentage of people who speak Russian and consider it to be their native language would be overestimated. According to him, these data will be used not only in the election but also in the next referendum.

In his interviews to BBC and Liberty, he said the referendum would probably be carried out next year, where the question about the status of the Russian language will be considered. According to him, it would be inadmissible to give Russian the status of the second state language.

The Russian Block created this year immediately answered him. The base of the block is the Russian Movement of Ukraine, consisting of two parties: For a United Russia and the Russian-Ukrainian Union. According to the block’s announcement, first of all, nationalist forces in Ukraine are interested in the falsification of the census results, who want to artificially change national and language structure of the population.

The block also doubts the objectivity of the calculation and publishing the census’s results. The reason for these doubts is that “bearers of aggressive Russophobe ideology” are presently in power.

However, in spite of the two sides’ announcements, the census is being continued.

Alexandr Gorobets PRAVDA.Ru Ukraine

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