Census in Russia reaches for the cosmos

Everyone counts in Russia this week, with a nationwide census now underway. It is an effort to better understand today's population - from current living standards to improving its future.

The ability to defy gravity is no excuse for denying your earthly responsibilities.

Even in space, cosmonauts are answering questions for Russia’s 2010 census.

Elena Zbarskaya, head of the Census Department of Federal Service of State Statistics, has the job of reaching out to orbit via the ultimate in long distance phone calls.

“When it was my first time, I felt more anxious,” Elena told RT. “And now, maybe because I already know what it is like, I am a little bit less anxious, but still I am.”

This out-of-this-world Q&A is meant to inspire Russians, no matter how busy or far away they are, to take a moment and fill out the census form. That is because it is believed that the questions within it could lead to answers that will solve some of the nation’s biggest problems.

The questionnaire attempts to address problems such as why Russia’s birthrate is so low and its higher death rate is so high in comparison to other European countries.

Data collected is meant to show who makes up the Russian household, learn what their resources are and identify how government can improve their quality of life.

And with the slogan “Everyone matters to Russia”, every person from those serving their country to those serving time are being counted.

“How else would we know what kind of financial situation Russia is in?” said inmate Vladimir Tido. “What our social situation is. How will we know how many people live in Russia? They are doing it for us. I think it’s a necessity and that was why I went to take part in it.”

In less-captive settings, young census-takers are hoping not to be turned away before the questionnaire is complete.

Ksenia Pinskaya’s family of three is doing well, but mom and dad are filling out the forms as a form of security.

“Now I feel good and maybe I don’t need help,” Ksenia said. “But maybe in the future if I don’t have job I will ask the government for help and the government will have this information about me.”

But for now it is the government that is counting on the population.