Staunton, November 17 – Not only is the total population of the Russian Federation now declining, but residents – and the vast majority of these are ethnic Russians – are fleeing villages which have been forgotten by God and Moscow and where life has become impossible, experts told a Federation Council hearing.
Over the past five years, the country’s population increased 1.4 percent, but in 46 regions, or more than half of all federal subjects, it fell by more than two percent over the same period as people left villages to move to major megalopolises like Moscow and St. Petersburg in hopes of finding a job (nakanune.ru/news/2020/11/16/22588365/).
Not only has that reduced the current total population in the regions, it has eliminated the part of the population – villagers – who traditionally had the highest fertility rates. And as a result, the process sets the stage for further declines of the country’s population as a whole and of the numbers of ethnic Russians in particular.
The central Russian government had an extensive program to hold people in the villages and regions, but it has cut back in recent years; and the result has been an ever larger exodus. Moscow has hoped that private business will pick up the slack and put money into rural areas and the regions.
But as Nakanune reported, no one at the Federation Council meeting could explain why business would put money into areas that “even the government calls ‘God forgotten.” has been counting on private enterprise to invest in areas it now isn’t willing or able to.
Ten federal subjects, all but two of which are predominantly ethnic Russian, showed the greatest outflow of population over the last several years, with 14,000 to 35,000 people choosing to leave the village and resettle in major urban areas. In contrast to the past, few stop at regional cities or even regional capitals.
Indeed, cities in regions which are not the capitals of those regions show numerically the largest outflow, although in terms of devastation and demographic impact, the outflow of people from rural areas is likely greater. Where are they going? According to demographers, to Moscow, Moscow Oblast, St. Petersburg, Leningrad Oblast, the Kuban and Crimea.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing to come out of the hearing were declarations by various officials that Russians are leaving the villages and the regions because it has become impossible to live there and it has become impossible not just because of underlying economic developments but because of Kremlin budgetary decisions.