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Alexander Gaponenko: Why the Latgalians were counted incorrectly?

On June 6 of this year, the important event, but noticed by very few people, has occurred – the Central Statistical Bureau (CSB) of Latvia published on their site (www.csb.gov.lv) the data on number of “permanent residents daily using the dialect of the Latvian language, namely the Latgalian language”. The mythical carriers of “Latgalian dialect of the Latvian language”, as it was possible to guess, actually are the Latgalians.

However the present Latvian authorities reject the right of the Latgalians to call as independent ethnos and any way lower their status to level of ethnographic group and the independent Latgalian language to the dialect level respectively. For this reason the Latgalians never were separately considered during the population censuses and attached to the Latvian ethnos without grounds. It was not considered the possession of the population of the Latgalian language during the Latvian censuses. And here on March 1, 2011, after the insistent appeals of the Latgalian intellectuals to the government, the question of possession of the population of the Latgalian language, let in the cloth and bureaucratic formulation, but was included in schedules. Now the data on “carriers of the dialect of the Latvian language” are published and they give the grounds for a number of interesting judgments. However before speaking about the Latgalians, we will remember how the census has passed as the ways of collecting, processing and updating of data cause a large number of questions even of not specialist.

On March 1, 2011, the census in Latvia began with modern self-registration of permanent residents in the Internet, but it stopped soon, allegedly because of mass leakage of collected information. After that the counters began to visit the houses and apartments, according to old, but technology checked on reliability. At last, at the end of the March, one who wishes had an opportunity again to fill questionnaires in the Internet. The data collected as a result of such chaotic actions were processed and sounded.

The obtained data caused the real shock of experts at understanding of matter essence. It appeared that only 1880 thousand people live in the country. And according to the calculations which were continuously conducted by the bodies of CSB on the basis of materials of the previous census, indicators of birth rate, mortality and population shift, there should live 2230 thousand people in the republic. Total, 350 thousand people or nearly 16 % of all population were lost. Usually all statistical work is considered senseless if comes to light that the mistake in the size more than 0,5 %, takes place and here the mistake in 32 times more was found!
The incredible divergences in settlement and actually half-scientific during census of population began to be checked and rechecked urgently. They rang by phone a part of the copied inhabitants and checked the work of counters – big violations weren’t found. Then they began to verify the data obtained during census with databases of the register of the population, payers of taxes, recipients of salaries, pensions and grants etc. It wasn't so correct, as why it is necessary to copy and spend considerable money if everyone was already considered in different registers?

During the verification was found out that 160 thousand people among self-registered had no right to do it as lived abroad at this time (probably, they were afraid to get under control of tax authorities during census) and 188 thousand of permanent residents simply ignored the census. The found balance in 28 thousand people registered to already counted 1880 thousand and received the quite authentic figure as a result – 1898 thousand permanent residents. The received figure was published in October, 2011, however, only as preliminary.

After the done adjustment, the population loss for the passed ten years, nevertheless, made incredible size – 479 thousand people (2377 thousand people – 1898 thousand people) or 20,2 % from the moment of census of 2000. The losses which exceeded the losses of the population of the country during the Second World War developed of a natural decrease and negative balance of migration. The natural decrease, almost irreproachably, pays off on the basis of data of bodies of the Registry Office on birth rate and mortality of the population. For last decade the natural decrease made 119 thousand people. Therefore other losses of the population in 360 thousand people were made by excess gone abroad over the driven. It is a lot, but, judging by data on unemployment in the country, it is very similar to the truth.

The negative demographic result of long board of bureaucratic elite was extremely unpleasant, but expected. The interpretation of its ethnic component was more scandalous. If the number of all population reduced the one fifth, so it means the number of title ethnos, namely the Latvians should be reduced the same size. It turned out that the ruling elite actively builds “the Latvian Latvia” and number of the Latvians is reduced by such rates that in 100 years they should disappear from the face of the earth completely.

The normal Latvian nationalists would make the correct conclusions from the received, tragic on the sense, statistical data: it is necessary to stimulate the birth rate, to fight against a high death rate, to create the workplaces in order that the population didn't run abroad, to develop production as only it is the unique source of means for the solution of all social problems. However there was a bureaucracy in power which only played the Latvian card, but cared a little of the valid protection of interests of the Latvians. The imperious elite decided to get out of the arisen ideological collision the simpler way –to modify the results of population census once again favorable to them. They added those 160 thousand, who actually lived abroad, but declared themselves during census in the homeland, to population constantly living in Latvia in 1898 thousand people. Already 2058 thousand people turned out totally. Then 10 thousand more people were added to them, probably for complication of results, and already 2068 thousand inhabitants began to live in Latvia on paper. This figure was declared as final result of calculation of number of resident population of Latvia. The loss of a total number of the population in a decade in 13, 0 % looked not so drama as real loss in 20,2 %.

However it is not enough simply to register 170 thousand people to the actual data received during the census – they still should be distributed correctly on separate registration categories, in our case to register to title ethnos. It is impossible to make imperceptible in rather developed science of statistics, as the various nonsense get out at once. However the adjustment was extremely necessary to the ruling elite and it done it.

The addition most obviously made by the authorities was found out at calculation of dynamics of movement of various ethnos number. For ten years which have passed between two last censuses, the number of the Latvians in the republic was reduced only on 6,3 % for some reason and the Russians on 20,9 %, the Belarusians on 29,9 %, the Ukrainians on 29,2 %, the Poles on 24,8 %, and the Lithuanians on 27,0 %. It turned out that the foreigners in Latvia ruthlessly were mown by any ethno-focused pestilence and their number was reduced in 3-5 times quicker, than number of the Latvians. But, if not to pay the attention to the action of unusual “statico pestilence”, the picture developed rather iridescent - it was possible to raise a share of the Latvians in a total number of the population from 57,7 % in 2000 already to 62,1 % in 2011. The construction concept of “the Latvian Latvia” was successfully rescued from public desecration.

The second nonsense easily comes to light in the analysis of data of the native language of inhabitants of Latvia. The total number of inhabitants for whom the native language was the Latvian in 2000 made 1383 thousand and according to “corrected” data of 2011 – 1165 thousand people. There was a decrease on 15,8 % that was even slightly more than the reduction of a total number of the population (13,0 %) (it is quite explainable that more Latvians leave abroad for work as they have the nationality). However if to compare these data with data on decrease in number of the Latvians, so it turned out that the Latvians lost the language in 2,5 times quicker, than their number – 15,8 % and 6,3 %, respectively. The second terrible fact for ideologists of “the Latvian Latvia”: moreover that the Latvian ethnos dies out, so it loses the native language by faster rates. Also the compulsory Latvianization of the foreigners is senseless – nobody from them wanted to recognize the Latvian language as native during the census.

In practice, simply “dead souls” didn't begin to scatter on separate language groups at “correction” of census results, but allocated in special category of persons who “not wished to specify the native language” (the table TGS11-07 of CSB materials of the Latvian Republic). There were 193 thousand people – almost so much, how many it is necessary to add to initial 1880 thousand, who were actually taken a census for receiving the corrected 2068 thousand. The incorrectly registered “dead souls” added a huge spoon of tar in barrel of statistical honey carefully collected for ruling bureaucracy.

Now, taking into account all revealed statistical “corrections”, we will try to interpret the statistical data concerning the Latgalians. It is noted in the materials of census that 165 thousand people constantly use the Latgalian language at home (table TSG11-08).

It is clear, that people using this language are the representatives of the Latgalian ethnos. However it is not all the Latgalians as many of them partially lost the native language and don't speak it at home. The organizers of census showed the obvious slyness and instead of a question of the native language included a question of language of continuous house communication in the questionnaire. Meanwhile, as showed the results of recent sociological survey (Lazdiņa&amp; Š uplinska), only 79 % of persons from among those who realizes himself as the Latgalians understood the native language fully or well.

Thus, 70% of people freely speak in the native language, 59 % of people read and only 36 % of the Latgalians are able to write. The other surveyed people owned only base or very weak skills of knowledge of the Latgalian language. It means, that it is necessary for add those who don’t speak the language freely to those who freely speaks the Latgalian language for finding of original number of the Latgalians. Having made the simple recalculation on the factor of good knowledge of language 0,7 defined in sociological survey, we will see that at least 236 thousand of the Latgalians live in Latvia.

Let's address now once again to data of the table TGS11-07 of CSB of the Latvian Republic on the use of the languages by inhabitants of Latvia at home without taking into account “a dialect of the Latvian language, namely the Latgalian” (it is included in structure of the Latvian). Let's deduct the well and badly speaking the Latgalian (236 thousand people) from total Latvian-speaking people (1165 thousand people) and we will receive the number of actually Latvians – 929 thousand people. In this case the ethnic structure of the republic population will look very interestingly: the Latvians - 49,3 %, the Latgalians -12,6 %, the Russians - 37,1 % and 1 % other. That is, on actual, instead of the corrected data of population census, the Latvians don't form the absolute majority of the population of Latvia any more.

Also the bureaucratic elite, constantly repeating that it protects their ethnic interests, brought the Latvians to such condition. The clumsy correction of a total number and ethnic structure of the population were necessary for concealment of this fact. For this reason the crafty formulation of a question of use of the Latgalian language at home was required which allowed to underestimate the number of representatives of the Latgalian ethnos.

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Author: Alexander Gaponenko, Doctor of Economics

Publication date : 21 July 2012 14:50

Source: The world and we

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