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.
The Russian Epitaph
Economist Mikhail Delyagin is convinced that the true goal of the ruling elite is to maintain the country’s backwardness and enrich their backbone of support — the bloated bureaucracy and siloviki. Economic development and modernization bring no benefit to the elite and their lackeys within the bureaucracy, all of whom have enriched themselves by seizing authority and property. After all, development requires a demonopolization of the country’s economic and political institutions. This necessarily means competition and the emergence of new independent forces, including a free media, that would demand transparency and that government officials answer to the people.
— As reported by Vladimir Ryzhkov from this year’s “Khodorkovsky Reading” conference in Moscow
Mr. Delyagin is only repeating what we’ve been saying here on this blog since the first days of its founding: Vladimir Putin’s KGB regime doesn’t want the people of Russia rich, strong and healthy. No, it wants them poor, weak and sick. So much the easer to repress them!
You may say that’s a crazy and suicidal policy for a nation, and you’re right of course, but it’s also consistent. That’s the way Russia’s rulers have always seen the people they govern.