Carrying Out a Population Census in Ukraine Is Political Suicide for Any Ukrainian Leader

With the junta in Kiev not being able to put off carrying out a population census in Ukraine for much longer (the UN recommends that population censuses be taken at least every 10 years, although Ukraine was given some leeway because of Maidan and the subsequent Donbass war), all who are interested in the results it would give prepare themselves for the worst. The Ukrainian journalist Andrey Manchuk writes that everything isn’t so bad as it seems in Ukraine… It’s actually much worse…

The question of how many Ukrainians remain will be cleared up by the next government.

In 2020 the long-awaited All-Ukrainian population census is supposed to take place. This was reported by representatives of the State Statistics Service of Ukraine, who promise to carry out this year a pilot test of the population census in the Obolonsky district of Kiev and the Borodyansky district of the Kiev region – this time using the Internet, tablets, and laptops, which the staff of this department will be armed with for a campaign on houses and apartments.

According to the State Statistics Service, this will allow to immediately enter the collected data in the general database, while before it was collected using antiquated methods – writing information down in questionnaires by hand in order to then later process these mountains of paper. All of this sounds like an undoubted achievement – if, of course, not to remember that the first and only population census of Ukraine was carried out in the distant 2001 – when millions of Ukrainians still considered the computer to be a luxury, didn’t hear the word “Internet”, and called military field bags “tablets”. During these 18 years the adult generation of Ukrainians grew, and technical progress undoubtedly went forward.

An all-Ukrainian population census hasn’t been carried out for an indecently long time – but, of course, for purely political reasons, and not technical ones. It was postponed a whole four times – firstly, Ukrainians had to be counted in 2011, then Azarov and Yanukovych’s government postponed it to 2012, and after this – to 2013. However, the new and honest authorities behaved exactly in the same way, having immediately shifted the census to 2016. And then in general they put this question on hold, declaring that war and aggression is not the time for such an event.

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Of course, this was pure craftiness. Ukrainian officials and governors every time delayed the census for completely different, purely mercantile reasons. For a start it would for sure yield shocking results, having officially testified to the catastrophic depopulation of the country – where, according to the results of the last census, 48.5 million people lived.

There simply isn’t any exact information about the number of Ukrainians – however, according to the very conservative and doubtful estimate of the State Statistics Service, for January 1st 2019 42,153,000 people live in the country. Thus, the population of the country decreased approximately by 6.5 million, which represents the population of the average European country. If to compare this to data of the last Soviet census of 1989, when over 51.7 million citizens lived in the country, the decrease will be the absolutely scandalous figure of nearly 10 million.

However, everything isn’t so bad as it seems. It’s actually worse. After all, this data of the State Statistics Service, which isn’t based on a full census and is based on fragmentary and incomplete information, the IDPs who left for the Russian Federation and several millions of citizens who are officially registered in Ukrainian apartments but have for a long time lived and worked in Poland, Russia, the Czech Republic, Spain, Portugal, and other countries could not be included. And if this is so, the real number of residents of the country can be much less. At the same time, it is quite obvious that the migration flow from the country will only grow. According to the data of the Institute of Demography and Social Research, 65% of Ukrainians at the most working-age, from 14 to 35, want to leave the country and go live abroad. Proceeding from the results of research, the specialists of the institute sadly predict that in the next 45 years the population of Ukraine will be reduced as a result of migration by a minimum of 10 million people. And the results of another survey conducted by the public organisation “Movement for Justice” testify that 81% of young Ukrainians aged from 18 to 28 want to leave Ukraine.

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“The most important problem for Ukraine today is that it departs in large quantities. A census hasn’t been carried out, and even if it will be carried out – it will be inexact. Why don’t they want to carry it out? Because they put down budgetary expenses for other figures. I think – and this was confirmed to me by experts – that in Ukraine the population is 30-35 million. And this is the maximum,” said the TV host Dmitry Gordon on the air of the “112 Ukraine” TV channel.

Alas, this forecast wasn’t made up. According to the calculations of the Institute of Demography and Social Research of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, by 2050 the population of the country may be reduced by more than 12 million people. “Depopulation became a characteristic feature for Ukraine, and it is almost impossible to overcome the trend of depopulation,” said the leading researcher of the institute Lidiya Tkachenko.

The current rate of depopulation accelerates with every year, every decade, and every month – mainly for purely social reasons. Besides forced labor migration – when the country literally pushes out the able-bodied population abroad in order to remove from themselves the burden of social expenses and to receive in exchange the money transfers of gastarbeiters – Ukrainians are mowed down by the typical consequences of poverty and war – mass crime, drug addiction, alcoholism, and the spread of social diseases, including tuberculosis and HIV-AIDS. The dismantlement of the system of national healthcare, which is taking away the lives of a great number of Ukrainians, already contributes to this. Everyone who died from the measles epidemic, who didn’t find the funds for an operation, or who couldn’t wait long enough for an ambulance working in accordance with the new rules can be added to the list of victims of the “reform”. Besides this, economising on food made Ukraine the leader among European countries for the death rate because of improper feeding. And many pensioners simply can’t survive with the existing level of pensions – against the background of the constant price and tariff increases.

The growth of mortality and migration is supplemented by the low birth rate, thus creating a real cumulative effect – moreover, the data of this same State Statistics Service points out with obviousness the social reasons for the reduction of the population. “There is an essential higher number of dead compared to the number of those who are born: for every 100 deceased there are 59 births,” declared Ukrainian sociologists. According to their data, in January-June of this year, 178,821 babies were born, and 298,133 persons died, including 1362 children aged up to one died. Such an imbalance in birth and death rate figures is characteristic for third world countries, where against the background of high mortality – because of social instability, poverty, the criminogenic factor, bad ecology, and a lack of access to qualitative medicine – a low birth rate is usually documented. Because many young parents aren’t in a hurry to have children, not having continuous earnings and future prospects. “It is advisable for the state to concentrate its efforts on this problem, pursuing the corresponding policy, and not only the demographic policy,” said the sociologist Lidiya Tkachenko in conclusion.

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All of this makes an All-Ukrainian population census something like political suicide for any Ukrainian leader – after all, data on a decline in the population would additionally arm the opposition against the authorities. It’s no wonder that Poroshenko’s team postponed the census to the next, post-elective year – hoping that a second term will give him a free hand to carry out unpopular actions, as is usually practiced in world politics. Or this problem will become a headache for the new government, which will be obliged to speak to the nation with the words of Lesya Ukrainka: “Get up, those who are alive!”

But the matter is not only in this. What’s more important is the fact that the unaccounted votes of “dead souls” and gastarbeiters who left the country will become fertile ground for falsifications, which the Ukrainian government is already being accused of preparing. And Ukrainians don’t understand yet how expensive the long-term postponement of carrying out the population census can be for them.

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