Friday, June 23, 2023

Elder Abuse on the Rise in Russia but Regime Hiding Behind Absence of Statistics on It

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 21 – There are three kinds of problems in the Russian Federation: those it shares with other countries, those it shares with other countries but handles very differently, and those that are unique to its social and political system. Whichever one analysts focus on reflects and determines how they evaluate Russia’s system.

            Those who focus on the problems Russia shares with other countries see these problems themselves as confirmation that that country is remarkably similar to other industrial states and can be understood and analyzed in ways that are used elsewhere, while those who focus on its unique elements argue that Russia can be understood only in terms of itself.

            Some of the most useful topics which provide a way to understand Russia and its relationship to other countries are those which fall in between, that is, problems which it shares with other countries but which it tends to treat very differently. Those similarities and differences capture Russian reality better than either of the other approaches.

            One such problem which Russia shares with other countries but often treats very differently is elder abuse, something that plagues many countries around the world including Russia but that Russian officials and Russian society currently treat differently than do their counterparts elsewhere.

            Takie Dela journalist Yekaterina Krasotkina says that around the world, every sixth person over 60 is absued. Just how many do in Russia is unknown, however, because the Russian government does not keep or at least publish such statistics. As a result, reports about this plague are typically dismissed as “anecdotal” (

            Many of Russia’s elderly don’t know their rights or whom to turn to and fear that complaining may end by making their situation worse. The Russian government has adopted a much-ballyhooed program to address the problem “before 2025,” but it seems unlikely that it will work barring “the humanization” of Russia society, something not on the horizon.

            Other countries, including those in the former Soviet space such as Moldova, have taken far more dramatic steps. But as long as Russian officials can hide behind the absence of statistics and claim that there are only a handful of problems each year, the Russian government is likely to do little or nothing.

            And that is perhaps the most important lesson of this report: by reducing the amount of information about social problems, something the Putin regime has been doing at an ever greater rate, the Russian government is creating a situation in which it will be even less likely to help and moreover be under less pressure to do so.

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