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


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


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


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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Russia, Land of Extinction, Part II

Hero journalist Grigori Pasko, writing on Robert Amsterdam’s blog (eсли Вы хотите прочитать оригинал данной статьи на русском языке, нажмите сюда):

It would seem I had already become accustomed to the notion that there is practically not one single corner of the earth left where you can’t find a Russian person. From Australia to Iceland, from Brazil to Japan, we are everywhere, sometimes taking over like an infestation. In so doing it ought to be taken into account that I’m not speaking about tourists, but about those who have left Russia for abroad for a new “PMZh” – permanent place of residence.

Of course, many of those who have left haven’t yet become citizens of the countries they’ve taken a fancy to. But this is a matter of time and persistence. Of course, many were compelled to leave: the power structure in today’s Russia makes starting businesses and owning property very difficult apart from few rich men with a tenacity that wasn’t inherent even to the “birdlings of Dzerzhinsky’s nest“. For example, look no further than the burgeoning community of wealthy but frightened Russian men in London. But not only the rich leave Russia. To my surprise I have met with many working class Russian people in other countries, who had left to their new adopted homes not even knowing the languages of these countries.

Once in my blog I wrote on this topic. And, it is recalled, an argument ensued with one of the readers. He asserted that Russians began to leave Russia massively still under Yeltsin, while under Putin and his stability, on the contrary, the outflow of of human resources shrank.

Let’s take a look at what the numbers say.

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Russia’s Siberia becomes a Desert

The Dallas-Forth Worth Tribune reports:

Picture a town inaccessible by road, buried under ice and snow for eight months of the year, unable to support a movie theater and without enough cars to warrant a traffic light or even a stop sign.

Chersky is the definition of isolation — or, in Stalinist terms, exile. This forbidding area of northeastern Siberia, where winter temperatures commonly sink to about -50 Celsius, (about -60 F) was once part of the Gulag, the network of prisons for the Kremlin’s enemies.

The town has shed more than half its population of 12,000 in the hard times that followed the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. Many of those remaining say they also would leave if they could.

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EDITORIAL: Russia, Nation of Smokestacks


Russia, Nation of Smokestacks

Of the following group of nations, the worst cigarette smokers on the planet, which do you think is the very, very worst, the most suicidal, the bottom of the wretched barrel?









Russian Federation





Viet Nam

Yes, it’s Russia. Surprise, surprise.

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EDITORIAL: Putin’s Demographic Fraud


Putin’s Demographic Fraud

A recent report on Russian demographics in the Moscow Times contained two stunning facts.

First, the average annual income of a Russian citizen is $7,500.  For a full-time worker with two weeks of vacation per year, that translates into an hourly wage of $3.75 per hour.  And remember, that’s the average wage, meaning something like half the population earns less.  It’s a wage that would be flatly illegal in every American state and every country in Europe. It represents desperate poverty in any civilized country.  In Russia, it’s normal. And remember: Russians pay the same prices for things like cars, refrigerators, televisions and computers that people in the West pay, because none of those things are made in Russia.

Second, the Putin regime thinks it’s doing a great job because the birthrate is rising.

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EDITORIAL: Putin’s Bloody mayhem against Children


Putin’s Bloody mayhem against Children

Did you know that one Russian woman is murdered by her husband every single hour in Vladimir Putin‘s Russia?  Did you know that there are 8,736 hours in a year?  As we report in today’s issue, Russian women are being slaughtered in their homes by their drunken, violent, crazed “husbands” with horrifying regularity, and not once during his rule over the country has the demonic dictator spoken out against it. One can only infer that he approves, and perhaps engages in the same type of violence himself.

But Russia’s conduct towards women is nothing compared to what it does to its children.

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The Rise of the Neo-Soviet Proletariat

Paul Goble reports:

Those Russians now making enough to pay for food and clothing but not major purchases constitute that country’s new “working poor,” an incipient working class that increasingly views its interests as being different than those of the state and itself as a segment of society ignored or oppressed by the state, according to a Moscow analyst. In an interview with the Novy region Moskva agency, Mikhail Delyagin, the director of the Moscow Institute of Problems of Globalization, said that in the 1990s, many Russians were far poorer but now, those near the top of the poverty groups are doing better and they form nearly 48 percent of the population.

Such workers, he continued, “can purchase food and clothing,” but they lack the funds for more expensive durable goods. Because of their share of the population, they are potentially able to make greater demands on the state precisely “when the [latter] has decided that it can do whatever it wants with [them],” although as yet they do not constitute a serious threat.

Instead, Delyagin argues, the long slow decline in their economic position over the coming years is likely to allow them gradually to become conscious of themselves as a force in society, something that politicians may seek to exploit for their own purposes or that they may act on, either of which will ultimately change the nature of Russian politics.

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Russians don’t Emigrate because they Fear being Required to Obey the Law

Paul Goble reports that, in contrast to the poll data we discuss in our led editorial, the Kremlin’s own polls show nobody wants to leave Russia.  But Goble thinks he knows one reason why at least some Russians want to stay:  They know they’d be required to obey the law if they lived in a civilized country.

In addition to all the normal constraints – inertia, language knowledge, and uncertainty about other places – Russians today choose not to leave their country for work abroad because they consider it “abnormal to live according to the letter and spirit of the law” as Western countries require, according to VTsIOM director Valery Fedorov.

Speaking to a Novosibirsk forum “Strategy 2020″, Fedorov, the general director of the All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion, said that Russians at the present time “rarely consider emigration abroad as a key to the resolution of their personal problems.”

According to his organization’s data, the VTsIOM pollster said, far fewer Russians are interested in moving abroad than “20, 15 or even 10 years ago.” Even those who are having problems “where they were born and grew up,” he continued, have many reasons for deciding against such a step.

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EDITORIAL: Russia, the Incredible Shrinking Country


Russia, the Incredible Shrinking Country

Businessweek magazine recently published a list of the 25 countries that are losing population most rapidly, in other words shrinking the fastest. In this most basic test of national success, Russia is #18.  That means that only 17 countries on the entire planet are shrinking faster than Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

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Russians: Still Scared of Sex

There's no bimbo like a Russian bimbo

No wonder Russia’s population is declining so precipitously! On top of everything else (no pun intended), Russians are still scared of sex!  The New York Times reports:

Past the topless woman dancing in a cage and the towering transvestite perched on three-inch heels, Ksenia Borisova was trying to grab the attention of passers-by. Her wares were housed in immaculate displays, complete with colorful instruction manuals, but after five years in business she was still having difficulty generating much interest.

As always, sex toys are a tough sell in Russia.

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EDITORIAL: Russia as Laughingstock


Russia as Laughingstock

As if the Kremlin did not get enough humiliation last week, as we report in our lead editorial about Khodorkovsky laughing at Putin through his cell bars and in our second editorial about Russian failure in Chechnya and Ossetia — or for that matter the week before when it was forced to advertise in the classifieds seeking lawyers capable of defending it in the European Court for Human Rights — yet another devasting blow to Russia’s ego was delivered.

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EDITORIAL: Fewer and Fewer Russians


Fewer and Fewer Russians

“Every year there are fewer and fewer Russians, alcoholism, smoking, traffic accidents, the lack of availability of many medical technologies, and environmental problems take millions of lives. And the emerging rise in births has not compensated for our declining population.”

That’s one of our favorite Russophobes, raging.  Anyone can see from his remarks his unbridled contempt for Russia and the people of Russia, and most of all for Russian ruler Vladimir Putin, who after more than a decade in unrestricted power has left his nation on the verge of extinction.  He’s a real Russia-hating bastard for sure, this animal.  He ought to be jailed in Siberia right next to Khodorkovsky.  You know the one we’re talking about, right?

Sure.  Dima Medvedev.

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Putin’s Theoretical Demography

Paul Goble reports:

Officials at the Russian Ministry of Health and Social Development have rushed to take partial credit for the slight uptick in the number of newborns in the first quarter of 2010, but an analysis of the ministry’s behavior, some in the Russian medical community say, shows that it is engaging in “theoretical demography” for show. That is because, Nadezhda Larina writes in the current  Argumenty Nedeli, the ministry is putting most of its money into a few new showcase perinatal centers in the major cities while ignoring most of the existing birthing centers across the Russian Federation or even putting burdens on the latter which they cannot meet.

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EDITORIAL: Happy Mother’s Day in Russia . . . NOT!


Happy Mother’s Day in Russia . . . NOT!

Last week a commenter pointed to a recent survey by Save the Children which ranked the 43 “more developed” nations of the world in terms of their suitability for motherhood.

Only five of them were found less suitable than Russia. That’s right, Vladimir Putin’s Russia was more hostile than 37 of the 43 “more developed” nations of the world.

Last Sunday was Mother’s Day in the USA. Russians, for their part, don’t even have have a holiday devoted to mothering.  And one can readily see why.  Happy Mother’s Day, Russians!

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Monstrous, Drunken Russia ravages its Children, Heroic Americans rescue Them

The New York Times reports:

Hundreds of adopted children, most of them Russian, have come here to northwest Montana to live and perhaps find healing grace with the horses and cows and rolling fields on Joyce Sterkel’s ranch. Some want to return to the families that adopted them, despite their troubles.

Others, like Vanya Klusyk, have seen far too much of what the world can dish out.

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EDITORIAL: Russia Brutalizes its Children


Russia Brutalizes its Children

The sensational case of Torry Hansen, the Tennessee nurse who sent her rebellious Russian adopted child back home on a plane by himself, has caused a backlash in the Russian government leading to a savage crackdown on American adoptions by the government and a frenzied torrent of venom from Russian nationalists (Russians, of course, can’t be judged on identical or even worse individual acts of horror by their citizens, but Americans, of course, can be).  To say the least, this response is deranged.

According to UNICEF, as of 2007 Russia had four million orphaned children. Contrast this with the United States, which has only 2.8 million orphans despite having a population more than twice as large as Russia’s.  This means that the per capita rate of child alienation in the United States is over 80% lower than in Russia.  Of course, with an adult lifespan two decades shorter than an American’s, Russian parents simply aren’t likely to live long enough to take care of their children, to say nothing of being far more likely to abuse and brutalize them if they do.

Even the likes of Pravda recognizes that the number of orphaned children in Russia is soaring out of control, even according to the Kremlin’s own data. Here’s what a Russian orphan can expect from life if, like one out of four, he ends up in a state facility:

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EDITORIAL: Russia and its Appalling Matricide


Russia and its Appalling Matricide

A recent study by the British medical journal The Lancet reveals that 34 of every 100,000 Russian women who give birth lose their lives in the effort.

That figure ranks Russia a stunning #62 out of 181 world nations studied, behind Ukraine and just barely ahead of Georgia.  Bulgaria, Romania and Estonia all have far lower rates of maternal mortality than Russia, and Russia’s rate is more than double — that’s right, more than double — that of the United States.

Russia’s rate of maternal mortality has improved over the past couple of decades, but that means absolutely nothing because it’s merely part of a worldwide trend and Russia’s rate of improvement lags far behind the world’s pace.  Russia’s rate fell 1.9% per year, but that was easily exceeded by places like Dominican Republic and Papua New Guinea and Haiti.  Russia’s rate of improvement places it a shocking #98 on the list of 181 nations.

Let’s repeat that:  more than half of all world nations did better than Putin’s Russia in decreasing their rate of maternal morality.  Combine that with the fact that one Russian woman is murdered outright by her husband every 30 minutes, and you have an abject disaster for which there is only one proper descriptive term:  holocaust.

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EDITORIAL: Russia, Perishing


Russia, Perishing

At a recent conference on Russia’s lethal population collapse Nikolay Gerasimenko, the first deputy chairman of the Duma Health Committee, said bluntly that “the birthrate will fall whatever we do,” despite the Kremlin’s claims of success in reversing Russia’s declining birthrates in recent months. Garasimenko stated that he “expects high birthrates to continue for two more years, [but] unfortunately since December [2009], there has been a slowing of the birthrate” and as a result Russias brutal “mortality has exceeded berths by 22,000, driving the population down.”

Gerasimenko confirmed that the Russian government does not have any type of viable plan for lowering mortality rates. In addition to reducing alcohol consumption, he said, the authorities need to reduce the use of tobacco and increase access to medical care in order to “reduce the super high rates of morality,” although he too was pessimistic.  He stated that because so many of the mothers are ill themselves “they give birth to ill children,” whose life expectancies are less than normal, creating a vicious circle.

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EDITORIAL: Unwanted “Russians” head “Home”


Unwanted “Russians” head “Home”

A recent piece from Transitions Online highlights how hundreds of thousands of citizens of Kyrgyzstan who are ethnic “Russians” have fled to Russia since the collapse of the USSR.  It documents the complaints of locals about being ignored and neglected by the government of Russia and hated by the native people of Kyrgyzstan.  It documents a demographic nightmare.

But for this flow of unwanted Russians from abroad, the Russian population would already be in freefall since fare more Russians perish each year than are born due to the endless litany of horrific dangers, from murder to smoking, that plague Russia life expectancy, which does not rank in the top 130 nations of the world.

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