Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Population Growth in Non-Russian Republics Hiding Demographic Collapse of Ethnic Russians

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 20 – The Russian state statistical committee no longer publishes data on which nationalities are growing and which are declining in size: The political risks of doing so are just too great. But indirect evidence shows that the only thing hiding the demographic collapse of ethnic Russians are sizeable population increases among non-Russian groups.

            That indirect evidence is provided in Rosstat’s latest data about the growth and decline of population in regions and republics of the country, numbers which show that many non-Russian regions are growing rapidly while the figures for predominantly Russian ones are declining significantly (

            During the first five months of 2016, Russia’s total population declined by nearly 42,000 people. However, during the same period, non-Russian areas in the North Caucasus increased by 29,000, in the Urals by 6500, and in Siberia and the Far East by 2300. That means the populations of predominantly ethnic Russian regions fell by nearly 80,000.

            While that is not a perfect indicator – there are some ethnic Russians in non-Russian areas and some non-Russians in predominantly Russian ones – does suggest that the ethnic Russians are declining both in number and the share of the population while the non-Russians are increasing on both measures, something the Kremlin is loath to acknowledge.

            Rosstat did report that in all the federal districts where Russians predominate there were significant declines: the Central Federal District lost 40,075 during the first five months of this year, the North-West one lost 8,331, the Southern 10,307, the Volga 17,078, and the occupied Crimea 3,635.

            In reporting these figures, the Russian nationalist site Russkaya liniya said that the only positive aspect of the new data is that the decline in the overall Russian population is 24,000 less this year than during the same period a year ago. But it suggested that was cold comfort for ethnic Russians (

                The portal said that the reason for  that sad conclusion is that the declines both last year and this are driven by the overwhelming declines in ethnically Russian regions, falloffs that may be hidden from some inattentive observers by the dramatic increases in populations in the North Caucasus and other non-Russian areas.

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