My first post on the Crimean census is here.
There’s now (March 2016) an update to this post here.
More preliminary results are now available from last October’s Russian-run census of Crimea, apparently having been dropped at a round table in Simferopol on the occasion of the first anniversary of the annexation of the peninsula.
Given the political implications of nationality in the Ukrainian conflict, as well as reports of an exodus of Crimean Tatars from the peninsula, I had been waiting for details about nationality – not included in the first round of preliminary figures – and these results do not disappoint. (Sorry, this is an image because I don’t know how to embed graphs in WordPress – if you want the Excel file, feel free to contact me. Click the image to make it bigger.)
Here I’ve compared four nationalities’ 2001 and 2014 Census numbers, lumping everyone else into “other” (although there are some interesting things to note among the less numerous nationalities as well, I’m short on time). In the second column of numbers we see the share of population attributed to each ethnic group in the 2001 Ukrainian Census; the fourth column gives each group’s share in 2014. The share of Russians appears to have increased quite a bit, while the share of Ukrainians has declined even more substantially. But perhaps the most noteworthy thing here is that the share of Crimean Tatars has remained exactly the same.
The two rightmost columns show what we’d expect each nationality’s population to be if we took the overall 2014 population of 2.2 million and applied the 2001 nationality breakdown. (Note that this is illustrative only; I don’t know if we can reasonably expect each group’s fertility, mortality and migration patterns up until the Ukrainian/Russian crisis of 2014 to have been similar enough to make this a valid forecasting method). Here we can see that the actual number of Crimean Tatars in 2014 is only about 900 lower than, or less than a tenth of a percent off of, what it would have been if 2001 proportions had held. By contrast, there are over 200,000 fewer ethnic Ukrainians – and 113,000 more ethnic Russians – than 2001 proportions would lead us to expect.
It’s no surprise that these numbers were saved for release during #крымнаш week. These nationality results are very, very politically useful for Russia. The shifts in Ukrainian and Russian representation toward a Crimea that’s fully two-thirds Russian help provide further justification to the assertion that the annexation protects the interests of ethnic Russians. The stable Crimean Tatar numbers – especially when considered with the shocking more-than-tripling of the “other Tatar” population and the note from Head of the Department of Health and Population Statistics Svetlana Nikitina that “часть крымских татар назвали себя татарами, поэтому при финальном подсчёте эти группы будут суммироваться,” (“a portion of the Crimean Tatars identified themselves as [just] Tatars, so at final count these two groups will be summed[!!!!!]”) will almost certainly help the Russian state put to rest rumors of a massive Tatar exodus from Crimea and continuing mistreatment of the Tatars who remain.