Saturday, March 16, 2024

‘For First Time Ever,’ a Kremlin Leader has Announced a Policy Explicitly Focused on Demographic Collapse of the Ethnic Russian Core of the Country, Baburin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Mar. 12 – In his address to the Federal Assembly, Vladimir Putin did something remarkable that is only beginning to be noticed, Vyacheslav Baburin says. He announced a policy to invest in the revival of birthrates in the ethnic Russian core of the country that has been on the brink of dying out.

            This is “the first time” a Kremlin leader has done that, the Moscow State University geographer says. In the past, apparently fearful of looking overly pro-Russian, Kremlin leaders, including Putin, have put forward demographic policies that at least in principle were universal in their pretensions (

But in his remarks, Putin declared that he will invest 75 billion rubles (750 million US dollars) in the coming years to boost the birthrate in regions where birthrates are now the lowest. These regions, Baburin points out, are precisely the predominantly ethnic Russian oblasts of central and northwestern Russia. 

There are many reasons why these predominantly ethnic Russian regions are in trouble demographically: greater urbanization and the death of villages, war losses and their echo, and a history of government policy of taking money from these regions to finance projects on the periphery of the country and abroad.

Whether Putin’s proposed policy can work, given the inertia of demographic developments, and even whether it will be fully funded, given his spending on the war in Ukraine, are very much open questions. But what he has done is nonetheless remarkable, the geographer continues.

Putin has shown that the problem of the demographic collapse of the ethnic Russian center of the country is now so severe that he is prepared to address it as an issue in and of itself, something ethnic Russians are likely to celebrate and non-Russians are likely to view as yet more evidence of the Kremlin leader’s hostility toward them.

Both of those views will have an impact on Russian politics in the coming years, possibly a greater impact than any of the other issues that are now attracting far more attention.

No comments:

Post a Comment