Monday, March 18, 2024

Putin’s Interventions have Made Russian Mortality Data Extremely Unreliable, Experts Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Mar. 15 – Vladimir Putin talks far more often about boosting the Russian birthrate that cutting mortality rates; but when he does focus on the latter, he does so in ways that have led to a sharp deterioration in the quality and reliability of the data that his government uses to make policy and offers to the world as evidence of its successes, Russian experts say.

            Two journalists, Mayya Guseva and Aby Shukyurov of the To Be Precise portal, have examined this situation and explain why the World Health Organization classifies almost ten percent of the mortality figures Rosstat releases as being unreliable “trash” numbers (

            In 2012, Putin ordered the country’s healthcare system to reduce deaths from circulatory problems, tuberculosis and cancer. Since then, Rosstat has reported progress in each case; but its reporting is compromised by the fact that deaths from “’indeterminate’” causes have increased almost exactly as much as those from these three causes have reportedly fallen.

            Russian researchers point out that their country has the highest share of that cause of death among all European countries, something that calls into question the Kremlin’s repeated claims that it has made more progress than in fact it has in dealing with the three causes of death Putin ordered to be reduced (

            There are similar problems with deaths from HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis being reported as the result of other causes. Indeed, one Moscow expert says Russian TB deaths are likely being reported as far lower than they in fact are and need to be adjusted, something that makes Moscow claims on these diseases suspect as well (

            Other kinds of death being hidden by the assignment of “’undefined’” causes include murders, suicides, and accidents. All of them are likely responsible for far more deaths than the Putin regime is acknowledging ( and

            Individual doctors and hospitals are making these diagnoses on the basis of what their bosses want to hear rather than Moscow imposing a single standard on all of them, the two journalists say. Otherwise, there would not be the variance in causes of death among the federal subjects.

            And they conclude their data-packed discussion with the following observation by one Moscow specialist on medical statistics which suggests just how bad the situation has become. Before 1999, Rosstat attempted to maintain control by issuing specific instructions on how to code this or that death. But in that year, the same in which Putin rose to power, things changed.

            “Since 1999,” Valery Yumaguzin says, “Rosstat no longer has any influence on the quality of these statistics: it only collects and publishes data” that are produced by others who act on the basis of what they understand the Kremlin wants rather than on the basis of specific protocols.

No comments:

Post a Comment