Category Archives: demographics

The Horror of Childbirth in Neo-Soviet Russia

Journalist Natalia Antonova, writing on Foreign Policy’s website:

“Russia needs babies” may as well be the unofficial slogan of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s ruling United Russia Party. The country is in a demographic crisis, shedding 2.2 million people (or 1.6 percent of the population) since 2002, and the government is trying to encourage more women to bring Russian citizens into the world. This year, when I unexpectedly got pregnant soon after receiving my visa to work in Moscow, I became a test case.

Since the Soviet days, having a baby in Russia has been commonly understood as a nightmare of understaffed state hospitals and forbidding bureaucratic mazes. Feminist author MariaArbatova‘s My Name is Woman, an alternatively harrowing and hilarious account of childbirth in the 1970s, was the grim reality for many. Arbatova described being left completely unattended during the final stages of labor, which nearly resulted in her death and the death of her twin sons.

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Russians: We are More Corrupt, and Hopelessly Sick, under Putin

Marc Bennetts, writing on RIA Novosti, points out that a majority of Russians now believe their country is more corrupt under Vladimir Putin than it was under Yeltsin, and one member of the Russian Duma believes the country is “seriously sick and may already be untreatable.”

The recent brutal slaying of a family of five – including three small children – in a provincial town near Moscow was enough to shock even Russia, a country with some of the highest murder rates in the world, and led a parliamentarian to suggest the killings were a sign that the country was “sick.” Perhaps incurably so.

The bodies of the 35-year-old woman, her three boys aged four, five and nine, and their grandmother were found stacked up in a bathroom in an apartment in Tula, some 200 kilometers from Moscow, late on August 1.

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EDITORIAL: Russia — Drunk, Uncivilized, Reckless and Suicidal

EDITORIAL

Russia, Uncivilized, Reckless and Suicidal

Russia has the ninth highest murder rate on this planet, higher than any other major industrialized nation.  No other nation in the world has a higher divorce rate.  Only only four nations drink more alcohol.  By contrast, Russia doesn’t even rank in the top 125 nations of the world for life expectancy.

If a person showed this kind of absolute, grim and dismal failure, a psychiatrist would no doubt classify him as a suicide risk.    Indeed, Russia seems to be, for all the world, an entire nation hellbent on suicide — and indeed only five countries on this planet have people more likely to commit suicide than Russians.

Many intelligent people would suggest that there is a direct connection between Russia’s place in the world’s top ten for murder, suicide and divorce and its top-ten position for alcohol abuse.  Certainly, the Russian government sees it that way.  For this reason the Kremlin has launched a policy of open warfare with alcohol, dramatically increasing taxes on both vodka and beer (a drink which, until recently, Russia classified as a “food”).

But the notion that Russia can solve its problem of alcohol abuse using brute force measures like taxation is abject nonsense.

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EDITORIAL: Russia’s Retirement Paradox

EDITORIAL

Russia’s Retirement Paradox

A Russian man on average lives to the age of 61.8 years while a Russian woman reaches 72.6 years of age.  This places Russia a shocking #135 on a list of 194 world nations when ranked for overall average life expectancy (65 years — Russians perish right at the time most Westerners are just starting retirement).

The stunning gap of more than a decade in average lifespan between Russian men and Russian women is matched by virtually no other country on the planet. Even in Japan, the country with the longest-lived women in the world, the gap between men and women is well under a decade.

But what is even more bizarre is Russia’s pension system, which awards retirement to women at 55 and to men 60.  This means that the average Russian man would only enjoy a pension for 1.8 years, while the average woman would get one for 17.6 years. Simply by virtue of being born female, a woman would get nearly ten times more pension benefits.

Shocking, isn’t it?

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EDITORIAL: Putin is Killing Russia, Slowly, with his Neo-Soviet Song

EDITORIAL

Putin is Killing Russia, Slowly, with his Neo-Soviet Song

If you are a child in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, you have a 20% chance of being born in wedlock and not seeing your parents divorce.  30% of all Russian children (300 out of every 1,000) are bastards, born out of wedlock, and 70% of those born in wedlock (500 of the remaining 700) will see  their parents divorce. This means only one in five Russian children will have a shot at a “normal” home life.

No doubt out of pity for this pathetic chance of happiness, the average number of children per family in Russia is now 1.59, compared with 1.9 in 1990.  That’s a drop of over 15% in two decades.  Half of Russian couples have no children, less than five percent have more than two. And that’s with the Kremlin bribing couples silly to have children! Just imagine how far the rate would have fallen without such bribery!

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Corruption is Killing Russia, Literally

Kirill Kabanov, head of the nongovernmental National Anti-Corruption Committee and a member of “president” Dmitry Medvedev’s Human Rights Council, writing in the Moscow Times:

In an April 22 comment in Moskovsky Komsomolets, political analyst Stanislav Belkovsky called for the arrest of Health and Social Development Minister Tatyana Golikova and her husband, Industry and Trade Minister Viktor Khristenko, on charges of corruption. In particular, Belkovsky accused the health ministry of pilfering funds for tomographic scanners and recalled that Golikova had promoted a drug called Arbidol that is produced by Pharmstandard, a company believed to have close links to her family.

Russians, suffering from corruption fatigue, have had a rather ho-hum reaction to the Golikova and Khristenko scandal. It is long been accepted as a given that the higher an official’s rank, the more opportunities he or she has to embezzle.

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Russia, Land of Extinction Part I

Paul Goble reports:

Preliminary results from the 2010 Russian census highlight some of that country’s most serious underlying problems and thus appear likely to be the subject of intense discussion and debate not only among commentators but also in the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections.

The results  show a continuing decline in the total Russian population, a hollowing out of much of the country, an increase in the gender imbalance Russia has suffered since World War II, and, what is especially disturbing to many Russians, a shift in the ethnic balance of the population as a result of differential birthrates and immigration.

And those trends — which some observers are already suggesting may be even worse than the official figures show — help explain why some Russian leaders wanted to put off the census or at least reports of its findings until after the 2012 presidential elections lest the census data call attention to the failures of Moscow’s policies over the last decade.

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