Staunton, August 24 – Moscow officials insist that the population of the Russian Federation is 144 or 146 million people – even they don’t agree, Maksim Mirovich says – but other Russians believe it is only 120, 113, 100 or even as low as 70 to 80 million. They have their reasons for thinking that, just as officials do for insisting on the higher figures.
“In an unfree country, ruled by an irreplaceable power as Russia now is, statistics always serve the state,” the blogger says. The national idea of Russia under Putinism has become the idea of growth in the number of people and territories.” After annexng Crimea, Putin even said that 160 million people live in Russia (maxim-nm.livejournal.com/528096.html#cutid1).
Not only is it important for the Kremlin that the size of the country continues to grow but also that the number of the people living in it does as well, and that helps to explain why, Mirovich continues, “the real figures may very essentially differ from those which official propaganda insists upon.”
According to some unofficial estimates, he says, since 1992, Russia’s population has declined every year except in 2014 and by no less than 200,000. If those figures are correct, then the “real” population of Russia is 133 million – and the difference between that and the figures the Kremlin claims is made up by immigrants.
And if one uses the so-called “grain index,” in which it is assumed that a country must produce one ton of grain for each member of the population after exports are subtracted, an index that works for most countries, then, in 2017, the last year for which such statistics are available, the Russian population would be approximately 84 million
Even if one assumes that the grain index should be adjusted in Russia’s case, Mirovich says, the population of the country would still be only about 110 to 120 million people. At the very least, the population isn’t as high as the regime says it is.
Why then does Moscow insist on the higher figure? There are two reasons. The first has already been noted: for propaganda. As an empire, Russia must either expand or collapse. The second, however, is that the existence of “’dead souls’” is extremely useful for the Russian political elite.
If in some electoral district, there are really 700 voters and they split evenly between those who support the powers that be and those who back their opponents, it is extremely convenient to have an extra 300 to 400,000 votes of those who are no longer alive but still counted to tip the balance in the “correct” direction.
Occasionally, the foreign media report such things – see, for example, lefigaro.fr/international/2016/04/29/01003-20160429ARTFIG00321-les-electeurs-fantomes-du-neuilly-des-oligarques-russes.php – but Mirovich says that he is sure that what they say is “only a drop in the bucket” as far as the real situation is concerned.
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