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Window on Eurasia — New Series: 95 Percent of Russian’s Territory has Lost Population over Last Five Years

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Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 2 – The flight of Russians abroad has attracted enormous attention, but it is important to keep in mind that while it may add to the brain drain, it only exacerbates rather than causes the longer term trend, the depopulation of most of the regions of the Russian Federation, Viktoriya Pavlova says.

            The Novyye izvestiya writer says that over the past five years, the population of federal subjects covering 95 percent of Russia’s territory has declined, sometimes precipitously, raising questions about what will become of much of the country (

            As Pavlova points out, “regions and indeed the country as a whole are not so much territories as the people who live and work in them. There is no use for an abandoned wasteland … except perhaps for filming post-apocalyptic films.” And there are all too many “locations” for such films in Russia today.

            This emptying out of the regions is especially striking east of the Urals where six of the ten suffering the greatest declines are located. If one adds two others, Perm Kray and the Komi Republic which are astride the Urals, that makes eight of the ten are in Siberia and the Russian Far East.

            The real situation is even worse than this figure suggests. On the one hand, some governors are doing their utmost to distort census figures in order to suggest that they have more people on their territories than they do in order to get more money from the center which in almost all cases is linked to population.

            And on the other, those that are experiencing declining populations are getting less money from the center and as a result are losing even more people because there is no money, thus putting most of the country in a vicious circle. There are only two exceptions to that pattern: Ramzan Kadyrov’s Chechnya and Russian-occupied Crimea.

2644322 Window on Eurasia — New Series

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