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Beware of fraud - Russia is taking a census

Russian Policeman Beware of strange men knocking on your door — it's census time in Russia and police fear fraud could escalate.

Russia's latest attempt to update the forms on the country's residents got underway on Thursday ­ and cops are urging caution against criminals using the nationwide side to sneak into people's homes.

"Such incidents happened during the last census, but you can't say that there were a lot of them, more like sporadic incidents," said first deputy head of Interior Ministry Mikhail Sukhodolsky.


To prevent any repeat, officers suggest that people take a careful look at census-takers' documents and dial 02 if they have suspicions.

Alternatively the anxious can keep their doors closed to guests and head to a local census station to do their duty.

The real census takers will wear a blue scarf, a blue baseball hat, a briefcase with the census logo and an ID. They will work between 9 am and 9 pm to make sure that they catch people who work at home.

What's it for?

During the census Russian authorities plan to gather information about people who live in the country. Foreigners will also be asked to participate and to answer questions on their gender, year of birth, country of residence, purpose of visit, type of work, length of stay, country of birth and citizenship.

The respondents will not be asked to reveal their name or provide any documents, and Rosstat guarantees that all the data will be confidential. More information is available at the census website.

More than 350,000 people from remote regions of Russia have already answered the questionnaires.

Preliminary results will be announced in April 2011, and final data will be released in late 2013.

Blessed are the census makers

Russian Orthodox Church and Patriarch Kirill said that taking part in the census is not a sin and announced that the church will help it after he personally answered the questions of the census taker, RIA Novosti reported.

"We will not order anyone to take part in the census, but we will do everything that depends on us to make the process easier..." he said.

He admitted that "people have some apprehension, connected to apocalyptical moods," but then said that he could "understand the feelings of people who want to be as far away from the world as possible."

He also used the example of Virgin Mary, who walked from Nazareth to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born, for a census.

However, despite the Patriarch's warnings Rosstat says that in general Russians are positive about the census, with 88 per cent of the population planning to take part in it. It is not compulsory in Russia, so residents' committees will provide information on those people's age and gender.

Workers at risk

The census takers will also be protected; about 130,000 policemen will be responsible for their safety. Police will accompany them to the flats of socially-disadvantaged citizens, a list of whom has already been compiled.

Strakhovoi Dom VSK insurance agency has insured all the census takers against dog bites, injuries and broken bones: all those affected will be paid 20,000 roubles in case of an accident. During the last census in 2002 there were about 500 accidents, two thirds of them dog bites.

Money matters

The census will cost Russia 17 billion roubles ($567.3 million). Two thirds will go to pay for the work of 650,000 census employees, who will be paid 5,500 roubles. Russia's census is much cheaper than in the US, fore example, where it cost $50 per person compared to Russia's $4.

There were reports that some republics were using census for political purposes. For instance, in Bashkiria the number of ethnic Bashkirs suddenly rose by 4 per cent at the 2002 census, and in Chechnya the same census showed that there were more people after the war than before it, Vedomosti reported.

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