Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has lost nearly 6 million inhabitants…


Tver, Russia, Inna Gluschenko

From Le Monde Diplomatique:

There is no need to travel to remote areas of Russia to find evidence of the country’s demographic crisis. Tver and its region (known as Kalinin from 1931 to 1990) are only a few hours from Moscow, but have recorded more than two deaths for every birth throughout the last decade. According to the preliminary results of the October 2010 census, Tver has 1.32 million inhabitants: in 20 years it has lost 18% of its population, more than 300,000 people.

Elderly widows pass through the elektrichka train out of Moscow, peddling a few kitchen utensils to supplement their meagre pensions. On the frozen bends of the Volga, fishermen dig holes in the ice. The bright, painted wooden houses of the villages contrast with the concrete blocks surrounding the capital. But most of the wooden houses have long been empty. “Half of the 9,500 villages in the region have fewer than 10 permanent inhabitants,” said Anna Chukina, a geographer at Tver State University.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia has lost nearly 6 million inhabitants. Russians returning from “sister republics” and increased immigration have only limited the decline. Russia is twice the size of Canada or China but its population is 142.9 million. “Its greatest poverty is the sparseness of its population over an immense territory,” said Anatoly Vishnevsky, director of the Institute of Demography at Moscow State University.

The UN’s most pessimistic projections suggest the population could fall to 120 million by 2025 (128.7 million in their medium scenario), before a more rapid decline. Rosstat, the Russian federal service of state statistics, has a medium scenario of 140 million by that date.

“Going down”, Phillipe Descamps, Le Monde Diplomatique