Staunton, July 27 – Rosstat has corrected its own figures about demographic trends, and the new ones show that the situation in Russia is even more disastrous than many had feared. The country is now on track to suffer a natural decline (deaths over births) of a million or more this year and not the 600,000 to 700,000 officials had admitted earlier, Aleksandr Zhelenin says.
The corrected figures released by the Russian State Statistical Agency show that Russia’s natural decline last year was not the 688,000 that Moscow has acknowledged but “more than 702,000,” a figure that points to even greater losses this year as most deaths come not from covid but from other causes, the Rosbalt journalist says (rosbalt.ru/blogs/2021/07/27/1913123.html).
This is far and away the worst natural decline in Russia since 2005 when that statistic stood at 846,600, Zhelenin says, and calls attention to the failure of the regime to provide better living conditions and medical services for the population not only for those suffering from the coronavirus but also for those with other diseases.
Instead, the Rosbalt journalist says, the government and its supporters have become increasingly callous about deaths. One TV doctor, for example, recently declared that all those who are dying should have died because they are elderly, weak and ill. Thus, the people don’t need more assistance. Instead, he implied, it should go to wealthy businessmen and the military.
Zhelenin is not the only Russian writer frightened by this situation. Commentator Arseny Sobolevsky writing in Moskovsky Komsomolets says that while declining fertility is a worldwide phenomenon, the situation with regard to having children in Russia is worse because of the collapse of state-supported childcare and the continuing availability of abortion.
Russia is already among countries with fertility rates far below the 2.1 replacement level. It now stands at under 1.5 and that in the opinion of experts means that it is a nation that is at immediate risk of “dying” (mk.ru/social/2021/07/28/zamknutyy-krug-demografii-rozhat-nelzya-izbavitsya.html).
Sobolevsky is alarmed both by the cutbacks in government childcare, something that means Russians can choose to have children only if they have the money to pay for support, and by abortions which continue to be used as a major form of birth control, reducing the population both now and in the future.
He notes that in the early 20th century, Russian demographers suggested that the country would have 500 million residents by 2000. That did not happen, and it did not occur “not so much because of bloody wars as because of radical changes in the laws [on the availability of abortion] and the way of life [without the support of either extended families or the state].”
If that doesn’t change, Russia will soon have fewer than a third the number of people tsarist experts predicted, with no end in sight to the declines.
Sobolevsky is especially alarmed by the impact of abortions. He says that King Herod remains infamous for having killed 14,000 infants in Christ’s time but that in the mid-1960s, Soveit citizens aborted about 20,000 children every single day. Abortions can’t be banned because that would drive them underground, but steps are needed to make them less numerous.