Staunton, June 11 – Russian government figures show and refute Russian government claims to the contrary that Russia has suffered the highest per capita mortality rate of any major country and that this has had disastrous consequences for the Russian economy, according to Academician Abel Aganbegyan.
The 88-year-old Soviet and Russian economist has lashed out at Russian government claims before that Moscow has done better than other governments in responding to the pandemic and even dismissed them as “populism” (newizv.ru/interview/12-03-2021/abel-aganbegyan-mif-o-tom-chto-my-proshli-pandemiyu-legche-drugih-eto-populizm).
“It is no secret,” he says, that in Russia, “there have become many more poor people, that unemployment has risen, and that depopulation has continued,” whatever the regime says. Real incomes of Russians have fallen by more than ten percent since 2013 and show little sign of recovery (newizv.ru/article/general/11-06-2021/akademik-aganbegyan-v-rossii-samaya-vysokaya-smertnost-sredi-krupnyh-derzhav).
The decline over the last 18 months, Aganbegyan is particularly striking because it leaves Russia at odds with other countries where incomes have stabilized or even increased during the pandemic. Still worse, the incomes of Russians have fallen “four times” further than the country’s GDP thus making the position of most Russians still worse.
“But the worst indicator of the pandemic and the greatest harm to the economy from the pandemic,” he says, comes from “the increase in mortality rates.” They had been falling but over the last 18 months they have risen and are now running at a rate of “about 500,000” deaths per year.
Russia doesn’t put a price on life in general, but the World Bank does; and if one uses its figures than the economic loss from these deaths, he says is approximately six trillion rubles (95 billion US dollars) depressing the GDP by about half that amount or 50 billion US dollar, an enormous sum given the size of Russia’s economy. And the real loss is likely greater.
The US has lost more than 500,000 people to the pandemic, but its population is more than twice the size of Russia’s. And that means that Russia’s mortality rate during the pandemic has been well over twice that of the US, according to “official Russian statistics” from Rosstat which are more reliable than many others.