On November 2, Chechnya became the first federation subject to make public
the preliminary results of last month's Russian census. The republic's population was given as 1,236,000, compared with 1,088,816 at the time of the 2002 census. The population on January 1, 2006 was reportedly 1,183,000, and on January 1, 2007 -- 1,205,000.
Russian demographers who evaluated the 2002 census data for Chechnya came to the conclusion
that the total population was overstated by between one-fourth and one-third. Since 2002, Chechnya has experienced a classic post-conflict baby-boom. In 2003, the birthrate was said to be four times higher than the death rate. The number of children
born in 2004 was over 25,800; in 2006 - 27,989; and in 2008 - 33,661.
But statistic show that some 40 percent of newborns had some kind of genetic defect. In 2007, infant mortality in Chechnya was said to be 60 percent higher than the Russian average and to have risen by 3.9 percent compared with 2006
. Even assuming the mortality rate remains far lower than the birthrate, the infant mortality figures cast doubt on the reported overall population growth, which Chechen demographers in 2008 termed highly implausible
On the other hand, the data collected in last month's census, whether accurate or not, is almost certainly incomplete. Reliable sources have told RFE/RL no census takers visited several villages outside Grozny.