Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Moscow Tries but Fails to Hide that Russia is Becoming Ever Less Russian, Experts Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 27 – Although Moscow has stopped publishing data on the national composition of the population except in decennial censuses, more frequently issued data on population growth in federal subjects shows something the Kremlin is not anxious to acknowledge: Russia is becoming ever less Russian, the Guild of Inter-Ethnic Journalism says.

            On the basis of an analysis of population figures from Russia’s regions and republics, that country’s pre-eminent organization of journalists covering ethnic issues says that Russia’s population may again be growing albeit slowly but that it is quickly becoming ever more non-Russian (

            That is because the non-Russian republics are contributing to a significant portion of the overall increase in population while the Russian oblasts and krays continue in almost all cases to be at zero population growth or even in decline.

            For example, the Guild’s experts say, three republics in the Caucasus – Chechnya, Daghestan and Ingushetia “compensate for the continuing decline of population in the ‘Russian’ oblasts of central Russia, with the North Caucasus federal district as a whole increasing the population by 77,000, twice the decline of the Russian areas.

            Ferreting out data on changes in the ethnic composition of the Russian Federation has become more difficult in recent years, the experts continue, because “the nationality line has disappeared not only from the passports of the citizens of [Russia] but also from the data reports of Rosstat.” As a result, one can reach conclusions only by a comparative analysis.”

            Thus, “if one compares the ethnic composition of territories with decreasing and increasing population, then it is possible to suggest that the percent of representatives of Caucasian peoples in the European part of the country is growth while that of the Slavic peoples is decreasing.”

            The same pattern holds in other federal districts. In the Urals federal district, just two regions, the Khanty-Mansiisk and Yamalo-Nenets autonomous districts were responsible for 78.6 percent of the growth,” covering large losses in population in places like the overwhelmingly Russian Kurgan oblast.

            The two districts with growth have been drawing people from Central Asia and the Caucasus, “and the ethnic composition of these regions also is changing in the direction of the Turkic and Caucasus peoples.” The high birthrates found in each would not have happened without their arrival.

            In the Siberian federal district, the four national republics – Altay, Buryatia, Tuva and Khakasia – accounted for 55.6 percent of the 22,400 increase in the population, while the overwhelmingly Russian 90 and 93 percent respectively Kemerovo oblast and Altay kray “showed depopulation.”

            And in the Far Eastern federal district, the growth in population Moscow has trumpeted has depended almost exclusively on a national republic, Sakha.

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