Sunday, January 26, 2020

Overwhelmingly, ‘Abandoned and Forgotten Villages’ in Russia are Ethnic Russian Ones

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 22 – The federal subject of the Russian Federation with the largest share of villages that have been abandoned and forgotten is Ingushetia, largely because Ingush villages were not repopulated after their deportation, but most of these empty villages are in predominantly ethnic Russian regions in central Russia.

            Drawing on the 2016 study of the Center for Economic and Political Reforms about the emptying out of the countryside, Anton Starkov of the Daily Storm portal stresses that longstanding ethnic Russian regions are the leaders in this unfortunate process (;россия-страна-умирающих-деревень/).

            More than 20,000 villages have disappeared in recent decades and another 30,000 are on the brink of doing so and may be “empty” after the September 2020 census, he says. In Russian regions, the situation is alarming: 34 percent of all population points in Kostroma are now empty; in Yaroslavl, 27 percent; Vologda, 26.2 percent, Tver, 23.4 percent, and Pskv, 23 percent.

            Both reflecting and intensifying this decline are reductions in the number of key institutions. Between 2000 and 2015, the number of schools in rural Russia fell from45,100 to 25,900 and the number of pre-school institutions declined from 40,600 to 17,500, suggesting more school closings are ahead.

            Between 2000 and 2014, the number of hospitals in rural areas fell from 5437 to 1064, and the number of polyclinics from 9217 to 3054. And between 2006 and 2016, the number of economic units (such as farms) fell from 59,200 to 36,400, although over the same period, reflecting concentration, the average size of these units increased. 

            But perhaps the most distressing fact Starkov presents is this: “according to statistics, life in the village is now more expensive than in the city and pay is lower” even though rural people can grow much of their own food. That means that rural poverty is far higher and the reasons to leave for the cities even greater than many had suggested. 

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