Staunton, July 7 – Divorces, extremely rare a century ago, are becoming increasingly common across the Russian Federation, with their number growing six percent between 2021 and 2022 alone. But the most dramatic increases have been in the North Caucasus where the number of divorces tripled between 2020 and 2022, Aby Shukyurov says.
Many observers are inclined to explain this as “the harbinger of the second demographic revolution” among the historically more traditional peoples of the North Caucasus, the researcher for the To Be Precise portal says (tochno.st/materials/v-proshlom-godu-rossiyane-zaklyuchili-136-tysyach-izbytochnykh-brakov-isklyuchenie-regiony-severnogo-kavkaza-zhiteli-kotorykh-stali-massovo-razvoditsya-vot-chto-izmenilos).
“But the most likely explanation,” he says, is that “many of these divorces are fictitious.” That is, in a region where religious marriages are more important than civil ones, people are filing for divorce but continuing to live together in order to collect money from the Russian government.
“In the summer of 2021,” Shukyurov says, “the government introduced a new monthly payment of 5,000 rubles (70 US dollars) for single parents of children under the age of 16.” To get that money, parents had to divorce, and “it was from 2021 that the sharp increase in the number of divorces began in the republics of the North Caucasus.”
The near certainty that these divorces were entirely fictional is confirmed by the fact that birthrates in the North Caucasus remained the highest in the country, something that would have been unlikely had these separations been real as opposed to unintentionally promoted by the government (vedomosti.ru/economics/articles/2023/06/27/982427-rosstat-nazval-regioni-s-naibolshei-dolei-razvodov).
Vladimir Putin has made the promotion of family life a key part of his commitment to traditional values, even inserting provisions about it within the Russian Constitution. But his policies are having exactly the opposite effect of his intentions, yet another example of the ways in which a one-size-fits-all approach guarantees varied outcomes in a diverse country.