Some 5.6 million people failed to identify their ethnicity during the 2010 census in Russia, Federal Statistics Service official Olga Antonova said on Tuesday.
The first census results were published last week, showing the country’s total permanent resident population was 142.9 million, a fall of 2.3 million on the 2002 census.
The non-resident population, i.e., foreign nationals temporarily residing in Russia - was 489,000.
The ethnicity entry was removed from internal passports in 2000 so people are now free to identify or not identify their ethnic status.
Russia has over 170 ethnic groups, known as nationalities, their population varying enormously, from millions in the case of Russians and Tatars to under 10,000 in the case of Samis and Kets.
Some people find it hard to specify their ethnicity because of mixed parentage, Antonova said, adding that almost every fourth family in Russia had members from different ethnic backgrounds.