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Using persuasion, education programs, and demonstrative fines

04 December, 00:00

The First All-Ukrainian Census is to be held between December 5 and 14. Last time the population of Ukraine was enumerated in January 1989 as part of the last All-Union census. Lack of reliable statistical data on the country’s population that defines its quantitative and qualitative dimensions is a huge impediment to reform, Chair of Verkhovna Rada’s Committee For the Issues of Labor and Social Policy Valentyna Hoshovska told The Day. The forthcoming census is aimed at updating population statistics, with the State Statistics Committee planning to embrace all the country’s residents in the census, including prison convicts, soldiers on active duty, and even the homeless with the social services helping with this last category. The responsibility for conducting the census has been vested in the State Statistics Committee (SSC), local executive, diplomatic corps, and law enforcement agencies including the Defense Ministry, the State Department for Penal Institutions, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs to conduct the census in the army and prisons. The census is to be carried out in three stages: between November 30 and December 4, with census workers visiting households for preliminary information and setting dates for subsequent visits; between December 5 and 14 when the population census will actually be taken; and between December 16 and 20 when census workers jointly with inspectors make sample checks, visiting about 25% of all households once more.

According to Deputy Director of the SSC Main Department of Statistics and Director of the Census Department Mariya Tymonina, the SSC is hiring temporary workers for the census, including students, the unemployed registered with employment centers, teachers, and other occupations totaling 250,000. Of this, 170,000 are census takers and 62,000 are senior staff including heads of census departments, their deputies, and inspectors. Interestingly, civil servants are not allowed to serve as census workers. Contrary to expectations, the census questionnaire is practically the same as before, including information on demographic issues (date and place of birth, family status, number of children, etc.), a person’s residential and work address, and sources of income. In addition, the questionnaire will include questions about a person’s citizenship, nationality, language of communication, and employment status (employer, employee, or self-employed).

Russia’s experience with its census in October indicates that completely unanticipated circumstances could emerge. One of them is hostility toward census workers on the part of citizens. According to the, fearing fraud and profanation, some Russians did not even let the census takers into their homes. Others refused to give answers to some questions, referring to the confidentiality of such information. It is very likely that similar problems will surface in Ukraine. However, as SSC head Oleksandr Osaulenko stressed at a November 28 press conference, the law On the All-Ukrainian Population Census all citizens must submit complete and true information about him or herself.

But getting full information will not be easy, Ms. Hoshovska warns, now that the rule of thumb for Ukrainians is that my home is my castle. Under the law, failure to comply with the terms of the census could entail administrative sanctions such as a fine. Mr. Osaulenko assured those at his press conference that everything possible will be done to obtain true and complete information, starting from elementary agreements and educational programs. Moreover, he did not rule out imposing show administrative fines on delinquents. But the major role in encouraging Ukrainians to respond actively to the census, like in all civilized countries, is to be played by the mass media.

The law On the All-Ukrainian Population Census guarantees the confidentiality of the information gathered during the census. Thus, no personal information on a citizen can be released, unless authorized by the citizen concerned, and is to be used in a generalized and impersonal form only for statistical purposes.

According to the SSC, filled in census questionaires will be stored in special warehouses for two years, following which they will be destroyed. Incidentally, access to these warehouses is denied to unauthorized persons and information contained there cannot be released to court, prosecution, or any other body. Still, the number of skeptics is large. As Verkhovna Rada Deputy and former President Leonid Kravchuk told The Day, “Complete safety of the information collected cannot be guaranteed, as it is not that difficult to buy information. The census will be conducted by very many people and one cannot guarantee that none of them will fall prey to temptation. On the other hand, it will be impossible to acquire any generalized information because it will be entered in computers and coded.

The question also remains open of whether census data could be used for purposes of political speculation. Recall that when the bill on the population census was debated in Verkhovna Rada this summer, some lawmakers warned that there is a risk that census workers might also ask questions about political affiliations of the respondents. Mr. Hoshovska, however, believes such incidents will be rare, for “those who want to use the census to pursue their own pragmatic political ends are only too aware of the election law, under which political parties or individuals convicted by the court will be denied registration.” In his turn, Mr. Kravchuk noted that such violations will be likely if census workers want to further some political agenda or idea, pattern, or fulfill some contract. It is hard to predict that such accidents might happen, but in the large-scale campaigns like this anything can happen.”

Funding for the census has long been an open question. “We need a minimum of UAH 200 million to conduct the census and process the data obtained,” said Mr. Osaulenko. This amounts to seventy cents per capita against the UN minimum of $1. The 2001 budget allocated only UAH 94.5 million, with another UAH 18 million to come from the Cabinet of Ministers Reserve. The rest of the money is to come from local budgets and international organizations. The funding earmarked for the census will be used to buy data processing equipment (modern scanners, computers, etc.), to print the forms (requiring 1,300 tons of paper alone), and to pay wages to census workers, between UAH 150 and UAH 180 (roughly $30-$35 — Ed.) for the 28-workday project, not much by European standards.

The census initial results, primarily the number of residents, will be available on the eve of the parliamentary elections, President Kuchma’s economic advisor Ella Libanova told journalists, saying the figure will help ensure an objective vote count.


State Statistics Committee Chairman Oleksandr Osaulenko believes the pending all-Ukrainian census will show that Ukrainian population has shrunk dramatically. The actual number of citizens could well all short of the official results by nearly 1.5 million, he said on November 26. The procedure of population enumeration followed in Ukraine or elsewhere does not make it possible to effectively keep track of demographic processes, he said. In part, following a census in Kazakhstan the actual number of citizens fell short of the official data by 3.4%, reports Interfax- Ukraine. Mr. Osaulenko stressed that preliminary results of the First All-Ukrainian Census will be made public in April 2002, with the final results released in late 2003. As he put it, under the census law each person liable to enumeration is obliged to provide complete and correct personal information. The 62,000 corps the census department executives and their assistants has been formed and they have undergone training.

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