Saturday, April 6, 2024

Russia’s Demographic Problems Now Echo Not Just Losses in World War II but Losses from Entire Stalinist Period, Smirnov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Apr. 2 – The Kremlin insists and many in both Russia and the West uncritically accepts that low birthrates in the Russian Federation today are in the first instance “an echo” of losses in World War II, but in fact, they echo the deaths and depressed birthrates of the entire Stalinist period, Andrey Smirnov says.

            Because Stalin suppressed the 1937 census and then issued a completely falsified one in 1939, the Siberian activist says, the USSR did not have a real census between 1926 and 1959. As a result, there is no completely accurate way to separate losses from World War II and those from Stalin’s collectivization and terror (

            Those who want to minimize Stalin’s crimes – and they include Putin and his regime -- often boost the size of war losses and thus reduce the size of losses from his other politics including the terror famine in Ukraine and other republics and the other acts of terror the Kremlin dictator unleashed during his long time in power.

            But the reality is, Smirnov continues, that no one is in a position to specify with precision the number of deaths from the war and the number of deaths from Stalin’s repression and war. Tragically, the shortcomings of post-Soviet censuses and especially those of the latest 2020-21 enumeration only exacerbate this situation.

            However, anyone who talks about the impact of these echoes on the birthrate in Russia now and in the future needs to be honest and talk not just about war losses but about the enormous number of human losses that have been the result not of foreign aggression but domestic repression, Smirnov suggests.

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