Saturday, January 18, 2020

Deaths of Villages Combining to Leave Large Swaths of Russia without People

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 16 – The deaths of villages have long attracted the attention of Russians most of whom trace their ancestry back to them, but the consequence of the death of so many of these rural settlements at once has largely been ignored and it is truly disturbing: large swaths of the Russian Federation now have no people on them at all.

            In Kostroma Oblast, Andrey Pavlichenkov, a restoration specialist says, an area 100 by 300 kilometers without people is rapidly emerging. That means that three million hectares of the predominantly ethnic Russian region have no people resident in them at all (

            Over the last decade, he continues, the population of the oblast has contracted by 15 to 20 percent. In many cases, people are fleeing rural areas for the entirely “banal” reason that there are no high-speed Internet connections or cellphone towers.  This emptying out is certain to lead to the amalgamation of districts in some places.

            According to Pavlichenko, “one of the results of Chernobyl” was that scientists could study what happens when human beings depart from an area.  In Kostroma, he suggests, there will soon be such a region without people “ten times larger” than the nuclear exclusion zone around the Soviet atomic power plant.

            The Nakanune news agency says that the population of Kostroma Oblast has fallen from 805,000 in 1990 to 631,000 now, and it points out that this withering away is “taking place more rapidly precisely in ‘ethnic Russian’ regions where the number of deaths exceeds the number of births by 1.5 to 2 times.”

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