Crimea “census" creates field for propaganda, manipulation - expert
Yulia Tyshchenko, an expert with the Ukrainian National Institute for Strategic Studies, made the relevant statement on Dom TV, Ukrinform reports.
She noted that the visible goal of the "census" is for Moscow to once again demonstrate they see Crimea as part of the Russian Federation.
In addition, according to Tishchenko, the "census" is set to show changes in the ethnic composition of population in the occupied peninsula. "I think it will be a kind of legitimation of the Russianness of Crimea at the national level. And the Russian Federation will then use this narrative in domestic and international discourse," the expert predicted.
She reminded that in violation of international humanitarian law, Russia is pursuing a planned policy of altering the composition of Crimea population. "By relocating people from Russia, they change the composition, in particular, the national one. This is an increase in the number of Russian military and their families, especially in Sevastopol and Simferopol. This is a mass influx of Russian citizens from the North Caucasus. In 2014, resettlement programs were opened for teachers, officials, civil servants, etc. Russians buy real estate en masse on the territory of the Crimean peninsula, and, accordingly, seal own registration. So during this ‘census,’ Russia seeks to learn whether the national composition has changed enough on the peninsula," she said.
According to Tishchenko, there is every reason to believe that the data will be fabricated to further legitimize Crimea as part of Russia.
In 2014, immediately after the illegal annexation, Russia also quickly conducted a "census" that “lost” at least 10% of Ukrainians who had previously identified as such. "Their number decreased by at least 10% in 2014. The same applies to Crimean Tatars. We can predict that the interpretation of the ‘census’ will show they are not indigenous people at all, that there are very few of them," Tishchenko explained.
According to the expert, the "census" assesses a demographic composition, as well as socio-economic indicators. "I think that after this ‘census,’ Russia will claim the Crimean peninsula has become more prosperous. And it will be a very strong propaganda effort," the expert said.
Also, she added, it should be borne in mind, now that the people of Crimea are very afraid of the "government," not everyone will be willing to take part in the "census." At the same time, this year's introduction of an "online census" forms a field for manipulating numbers.
“In the occupied territories, both in Crimea and in Donbas, the less the occupation authorities know about the people, the better for the latter. The atmosphere in Crimea implies that people seek to attract minimum attention and disclose as few personal information as possible,” the expert stressed, adding that the electronic innovations could facilitate the occupation authorities’ work in collecting this data.
She stressed that the results of such a "census" will definitely not be objective.
“In particular, certain questions about Crimea's affiliation constitute a criminal offense in Russia. If anyone doubts the claim that Crimea is part of Russia, they may face huge problems from the Russian authorities,” Tishchenko said.
As reported, Russia is conducting a population census in Crimea from October 15 to November 14, for the second time since 2014. Such actions by Moscow on the occupied peninsula have already been condemned by a number of foreign governments.
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