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Russian Village Boycotts Census Over Water Dispute

RASSVET, Russia -- Inhabitants of the village of Rassvet in the Russian republic of Bashkortostan are boycotting the national census to protest a lack of available drinking water, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reports.

The village, which has some 1,000 inhabitants, is 200 kilometers away from Ufa, the republican capital.

Villages told RFE/RL on condition of anonymity that public officials closed the spring that served as the village's only source of water on the grounds that it was unsafe.

"Take a look at our spring, our source of water," one said. "Last year, the horns and hooves of a dead cow were found in it. Public health officials declared this water undrinkable."

Another villager told RFE/RL that officials usually visit the village only during election campaigns.

"We won't participate in the census until they listen to us," she said. "Let them say we are a dead village. I think this is what [the authorities] really want after all."

The village lacks both medical services and public transportation to connect it with the town of Belebey, 12 kilometers away.