Russian census unearths Scythians, Hobbits

MOSCOW, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- Russia's first post-Soviet census in its sixth day of counting the country's shrinking population revealed some rare nationalities and ethnic groups, Interfax news agency reported Monday.

More than 30 residents in the souther Russian city of Rostov-on-Don would report their nationality to census takers as "Scythian," Fyodor Mikushin, the deputy head of the local organization named "The Scythian national congress" told the agency.


At least six people have already done so, added Mikushin, arguing that not all had been treated seriously by the census takers.

At one census station, a would-be local "Scythian" was confronted by a taker who refused to enter the given nationality in a questionnaire.

The persistent "Scythian" had to resort to citing census legislation to prove his right to declare whatever nationality he prefers.

According to the census law, the data collected by the census takers are not subject to confirmation by documented proof and have to be entered in exact compliance with the statements made by the residents.

Thus, such liberties as labeling oneself a "Scythian" are completely permissible by the law.

However, the population's exploits don't end here -- a group of teenagers in the Ural mountains city of Perm who admirey the works of writer John Tolkien decided to report their nationalities as Hobbits and elves, Web site reported Monday.


"Whichever nationality a citizen claims as his own, be it Kossack, (the Far Northern) Pomor or Martian, it will be entered in the books that way," Vladimir Sokolin, the chairman of Russia's State Statistics Committee told ORT television network Sunday.

In Soviet times, such exploits were impossible as the information on nationality was included in a citizen's identity card and automatically copied into census questionnaires.

Several years ago, Russian lawmakers voted to gradually abolish old Soviet IDs and replace them with new ones, bearing Russia's coat of arms and other insignia of post-Soviet Russia.

Another novelty was the absence of the nationality section in IDs as the legislators argued that the move would promote ethnic tolerance and ensure the right of an individual to decide himself whether he wants to share information on his nationality.

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