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October 17th 2002 · Prague Watchdog / Timur Aliyev · PRINTER FRIENDLY FORMAT · E-MAIL THIS · ALSO AVAILABLE IN: RUSSIAN 

Census in Chechnya is over

Timur Aliyev, North Caucasus – The census in Chechnya was brought to a close and revealed its first preliminary results, announced Chairman of the State Statistics Committee of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Digayev. According to his words, Chechnya currently has a population of 1,080 thousand.

Murad Nashkhoyev, a Chechen specialist on political sciences, considers the figure doubtful. “Chechen population before the last war (1999-200?) numbered, even by Russian estimates, some 600 – 700 thousand,” says Nashkhoyev. “The poll suggests that instead of falling during the war years, the population grew by almost 150 percent. In view of the great losses among civilians and massive migration of Chechens to other regions and republics of Russia, a natural rise of this scale is impossible.”

Leader of the civil organization “Independent Consultation Council”, Baudi Dudayev, thinks that the head count offers “fictive data”. “Federal authorities and local officials benefit from this,” he claims. “Firstly, it enables them to show to the international community that the civilians in Chechnya have not, in fact, suffered so severely. Secondly, it helps them receive additional subsidies from Moscow, such as children allowances and pensions, which can be later included among expenditures.”

Outlining preliminary results of the census at a meeting with Prime Minister of the Moscow-backed Chechen government Stanislav Ilyasov, Ramzan Digayev said that “the republic’s population took active part in this state event.” He claims that the survey reached virtually all inhabitants of Chechnya.

But many people deny talking to census takers. “I often go to a market during the day so it is hard to find me at home,” says Markha Edilsultanova, who lives in Grozny’s most preserved district, Staropromyslovsky. “My neighbours always keep an eye on my flat while I am away. But no one ever knocked on my, nor their door.”

In the meantime, the Chechen leadership already started exploiting the results of the census. Premier Stanislav Ilyasov said at a joint news conference with Ingush President Murat Zyazikov in Moscow that one million one hundred inhabitants are living a peaceful life in Chechnya, so it is time for the refugees in Ingushetia to return home.

Ilyasov said that the results of the census in Ingushetia showed that there are 26,000 refugees staying in tent camps. Five thousand of them have houses which were left intact, nine thousand will be accomodated in Grozny in houses leased for them and seven thousand will be put up in temporary accomodation facilities. „The rest will probably opt to stay in Ingushetia,“ Ilyasov said.

(P,T)

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