MINELRES: RFE/RL: Tatar-Bashkir Report: Census Results

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Fri Nov 14 17:25:12 2003


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One In 10 Kreshens Register In Census Separately From Tatars 

The State Statistics Committee announced that 25,000 Christian Tatars
(Kreshens), less than 10 percent of their total estimated population,
were registered in the 2002 census in Russia, "Vostochnyi ekspress"
reported on 6 November. Scholars estimate that between 200,000 and
300,000 Christian Tatars live in Russia. Controversy arose on the eve of
the census between those who advocate for separate registration of the
Christian Tatars and those who believe they are an ethnic group within
the Tatar people (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 15, 16, 19 April, 9
May and 10 October 2002, and "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Weekly Report," 29
March and 4 October 2002).


Scholars Comment On Census Results 

Commenting on the results of the 2002 census in a roundtable held by the
RFE/RL Kazan bureau on 9 November, Valerii Tishkov, director of the
Ethnology and Anthropology Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences,
said the population of Tatars in Russia grew by 36,000 or 0.6 percent,
including: Christian Tatars, Siberian Tatars, and Nugaibeks. 

Tishkov said that the Ethnology and Anthropology Institute promotes the
separation of the latter groups from Tatars; however, distinguishing
these groups from one another is strongly opposed by Tatar President
Mintimer Shaimiev and the republic's other leaders. As a result, the
census organizers decided to retain one general category for all Tatars.
Tishkov said the growth of Bashkirs by 330,000, or 22 percent, may be
explained either by Bashkortostan Tatars who now identify themselves as
Bashkir or by other distortions. During the same roundtable, Damir
Iskhaqov, history professor and head of the Kazan-based Ethnological
Monitoring Center, said the small growth of Tatars registered in the
2002 census is also a result of migration. He cited unidentified experts
who say that some 100,000 Tatars have come to Tatarstan from outside
Russia in the past 10-15 years, while the number of officially
registered Tatar migrants in Russia is only 35,000. At the same time,
Iskhaqov said the significant growth of Bashkirs in Bashkortostan did
not result from natural growth or migration. He said the growth can only
be explained by some of Bashkortostan's Tatars registering as Bashkirs. 

Tatars who have identifed as Bashkirs in the 2002 census have not
necessarily changed their ethnic identity, but instead are using the
administrative levers of power, Iskhaqov added. Such a sharp growth of
Bashkirs breaks all trends registered in the past several censuses,
making it artificial, Iskhaqov said. 

Tishkov said that data taken from the census on native languages is also
inaccurate. The question was added as a result of demands by
representatives of regions populated by people of non-Russian
ethnicities. Tishkov said the inaccuracies in reporting stemmed from
nationalism. Mikhail Guboglo, head professor for the Moscow-based
Ethnologic Research Center, said it is impossible to compare the results
of the 2002 census with those of previous censuses because of the
question on native language. Guboglo argues that a native language is
not an individual's first learned language, nor the one that they might
speak most often, but the one that is considered native. Guboglo said
that "the most striking example" of this is the group of 230,000
Bashkirs living in Bashkortostan who reported their native language as
Tatar.

RFE/RL: TATAR-BASHKIR DAILY REPORT: 10 November 2003