(OT?) Australian newspaper report about Russia

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Downward Spiral

Mother Russia is on the verge of a demographic crisis.
Nicolas Miletitch

Adevertiser 'Insight' feature article.
February 26

Emigration, suicide, vodka abuse, abortion, tuberculosis, economic crisis, war...it is no wonder the population of Russia fell by a post-Soviet record of almost 800,000 people last year, experts say.

There are now almost three million fewer Russians than there were when the Soviet Union collapsed, and analysts are wondering where the depopulation of the world's largest country will end.

Most experts see the population decline continuing due to a low birth rate, which is exacerbated by widespread abortion, and a far higher death rate blamed on formidable alcohol abuse, a failing public health system, a growing AIDS problem and a shockingly high suicide rate.

The statistics speak for themselves. The State Statistics Committee reported that Russia's population at the end of 1999 was 145.5 million, 2.8 million fewer than in 1992. Last year the population fell by a staggering 784,500 or 0.5 per cent.

The number of immigrants fell sharply to 379,700 while the number who emigrated rose to 214,900. Births fell to 1,215 million while deaths increased to 2.14 million. Georgetown University's Murray Feshback predicted recently that with the birth rate falling sharply, and the death rate climbing, Russia's population would evaporate to just 80-100 million people by 2050.

Russia's birth rate has been hit by a double-whammy of economic crisis, which has made people reluctant to procreate, and an almost blase attitude towards abortion.

"Russia is on the verge of a demographic crisis because we don't have very many children being born," said Valentin Pokrovsky, head of Russia's Academy of Medical Sciences.

Government reports issued in recent years have suggested that the demographic tendencies in the country could be a 'thret to national security', with a worse-case scenario predicting a halving of the population by 2050.

"These projections are exaggerated," said Kremlin demographics advisor Vladimir Mukomel. "No expert worth his salt could advance such predictions."

The average Russian man dying at the age of 58 still remains a serious concern. Alcohol abuse is partly blamed for this, but the re-imergence of tuberculosis, rife in Russian prisons, a a growing AIDS problem are also factors, say experts.

Meanwhile, at some 40 people per 100,000 inhabitants, Russia's suicide rate is one of the worst in the world. Eight people killed themselves in Moscow in one day alone recently, the Segodnya daily reported, most of them throwing themselves out of windows.

Emigration remaind popular, with more than 200,000 people leaving Russia on average every year. Economic penury and growing criminalisation are persuading those who can to seek a future elsewhere, an attitude summed up by top soccer star Andrei Tikhonov, who was the victim of a weekend robbery in which his young child narrowly escaped injury.

"I am going to play abroad," Tikhonov told Sport Express daily. "I no longer want to worry about my family every day."

All of which gives acting president Vladimir Putin pause for thought as he pursues his 5 month war in Chechnya, which has done little for the country's population growth.

"Vladimir Putin will have no one to rule," moaned the daily Izvestia, looking ahead to March 26 elections in which Putin is a clear favourite to win.

"He apparently says that 'for a country like ours we need no fewer than 500 million people'. Unfortunately on this matter you can't just say 'We'll work on it, Vladimir Vladimirovich'."


This is a very poignant article (sorry no link - typedit out). Australia this week announced a halt to asylum seekers and fast tracking refugees migration. There are simply too many boat people arriving ad hoc in any old way they can. We are only just coping with these illegal migrants from Eastern Europe and the Middle East trouble zones.

Posted for general awareness. It might be a long stretch to tie it to Y2K troubles in Eastern Europe - but I get a feeling things aren't ticking over at all well over there.

Regards from OZ

-- Pieter (zaadz@icisp.net.au), February 25, 2000


Government reports issued in recent years have suggested that the demographic tendencies in the country could be a 'thret to national security'

Naw...as long as they keep their warheads topped off and their ICBMs fueled up they'll be fine.

-- (@ .), February 25, 2000.

If Russia's population fell, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and all the rest of the stan countries are going up 3% per year and I saw plenty of "ethnics" while I was in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. I'm sure the ethnics will help to maintain a healthy growth rate.

-- Guy Daley (guydaley@bwn.net), February 25, 2000.

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