KAZAN -- All citizens in the Russian republic of Tatarstan who were unaccounted for in last month's census will be automatically counted as being ethnic Russians, a census taker has told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service.
Airat Khatmulla, a census taker in the Tatar capital, Kazan, told RFE/RL that not all families allowed census takers to enter their homes. He said that every census taker was tasked with interviewing about 400 people in 168 households, but many refused to speak with the census takers.
Khatmulla said when the census was officially announced as having ended, Tatarstan's State Statistics Agency, Tatarstanstat, issued an order that all people who were not interviewed by the census takers should be marked down as being ethnic Russian.
The census in Russia was officially from October 14 to October 25. It was later prolonged until October 29 due to the significant number of people who had not been interviewed.
In the republics of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan, the issue of ethnicity is very sensitive. Tatar nationalist groups claimed before and during the census that Russian officials were trying to divide Tatars into separate, smaller ethnic groups to reduce the number of ethnic Tatars, the second-largest ethnic group in Russia after Russians.
The Tatar nationalist groups also claimed that many Tatars in Bashkortostan are officially recorded as being ethnic Bashkirs to make the number of Bashkirs
higher in that republic.
Some locals -- in some cases whole villages -- openly refused to cooperate with the census takers because of their dissatisfaction with social, economic, and medical conditions and demands for improvements.
Ethnic Tatars (53 percent) had a slight majority over ethnic Russians (40 percent) in Tatarstan, which has nearly 4 million residents.
In Bashkortostan, ethnic Russians (36 percent) had a slight majority over Bashkirs (30 percent) and Tatars (24 percent) among that republic's 4 million population.(WATCH: Census Gets Under Way In Tatarstan)