Friday, October 2, 2015

Population Growth in Muslim North Caucasus Matches Population Decline in Russian Center

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 2 – In the first eight months of 2015, there were 52,000 more births than deaths in the predominantly Muslim North Caucasus, almost exactly compensating for the fact that during the same period, there were 52,000 more deaths than births in the predominantly ethnic Russian Central Federal District, even though the total population of the former is much smaller than that of the latter, Russian government statisticians report.

            That means two things: On the one hand, any growth in the population of the Russian Federation in recent times has been because the growth among Muslims has compensated for losses among Russians. And on the other, this pattern accelerates the growth of the share of the Muslim population of the country and the decline in the percentage of ethnic Russians.

            Russia’s Federal Statistics Service trumpets any increase in the Russian population but rarely provides data showing just where it comes from.  But it reports that in August, the population of the country grew by 23,000 and that 9,000 of that number was provided by a greater number of births over deaths in the North Caucasus (

                For the Russian Federation as a whole, in August 2015, 168,654 children were born, while 145,113 people died for a natural increase of 23,541, some 3500 more than in August 2014. Most of this improvement, the service said, came from a decline in mortality rather than a growth in fertility.

            But the August improvement could not make up for the continuing decline of the population of the Russian Federation as a whole during this year. Since January 1, there have been 11,704 more deaths than births, 1,289,132 against 1,277,428 respectively, the statistical service reported.

            But beneath these figures, Russian commentators say, are others which are disturbing as far as they are concerned. Predominantly ethnic Russian regions “continue to die out, while the growth of the population [in Russia] is observed mainly because of the Muslim peoples of the Caucasus,” as the Russkaya liniya portal put it.

            What this means, the Russian portal continues, is that “the demographic policy of our rulers for the country as a whole has completely failed because the growth of the population in the Caucasus is seen even in extremely difficult periods for it while Russian regions which were dying out earlier continue to do so now.”

            “Only the Urals and Siberia now show some positive demographic result,” it says, but it notes that “the ethnic composition of these regions in the present time is all the same extremely variegated,” a euphemism for the fact that these regions are increasingly made up of non-Russian and non-Orthodox nations.

            Below are the figures by federal district for January through August of this year:

            The Central Federal District – Minus 51,750.

            The Northwest Federal District – Minus 10,189

            The Southern Federal District – Minus 9,754

            The North Caucasus Federal District – Plus 52,048

            The Volga Federal District – Minus 19,959

            The Urals Federal District – Plus 17,442

            The Siberian Federal District – Plus 11,019

            The Far Eastern Federal District – Plus 4,117

            The Crimean Federal District – Minus 4678

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