Thursday, January 19, 2012

Window on Eurasia: Putin Urged to Create Ministry for Demographic Development

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 19 – The leader of the Russians Foundation has written to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin urging him to establish a special ministry for demographic development to deal with the country’s demographic decline, migration, and support for compatriots living outside of the Russian Federation.

            The news agency reported yesterday that Leonid Shershenev, in a letter signed by other ethnic Russian leaders, told the premier that “only the establishment of a new state organ will be able to solve the problems of emigration and the continuing reduction in the size of the Russian population” (

            In the letter, Shershenev also said that in his opinion, there was no need to restore the ministry for nationality affairs which simply “lobbied for the interests of the leaderships of national minorities to the harm of the broad strata of the population” and “never even once” discussed the demographic problems of the Russian nation.”

            A Ministry for Demographic Development, the foundation head continued, would be different. Its departments would oversee the government’s “demographic policy” and would develop a state “concept” to ensure not only a common approach of all agencies but also progress in turning Russia’s demographic situation around

             Shershenev is not the first to make this argument, the news agency reported. Seven years ago, it said, “Igor Beloborodov, the director of the Moscow Institute of Demographic Research, made the same proposal, and recently, he even posted this idea on the prime minister’s website  And deputies from Just Russia and the Liberal Democratic Party have advanced similar ideas

            Beloborodov told that Russia has “the largest indicator of population decline” of any country in the world and complained that despite pledges by the country’s leaders to do something about this, “there have not been any administrative actions for the resolution of the problems.”

            As a result, he continued, the various agencies involved with population questions do so in an uncoordinated fashion and only as a secondary issue to their primary responsibilities.” As a result, one cannot speak of a genuine state policy in this critical area, a situation that he said “should not be the case.”

               “But not all experts consider that the creation of a new state agency would solve the problem of the reduction in the number of Russians,” the news agency says. Some think its creation would only “increase the number of bureaucrats,” without having any impact on the underlying forces at work

            Elena Tyuryukanova, a scholar at the Moscow Institute of Social-Economic Problems of Population, for example, opposes creating such a ministry. “In order to come up with a conception of demographic development, it isn’t necessary to create a ministry.” Indeed, Russia already has such a concept paper.” Setting up a new ministry wouldn’t change anything.

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