Russian Demographics: Winter or Spring, depending on whether the analysis comes from the West or from Russia itself, by Alexandre Latsa

On September 2nd, 2014, Masha Gessen [1] an activist for the rights of sexual minorities, published in the reference magazine New York Review of Books (NYR) an article with a provocative title, The Dying Russians [2], illustrated by a lugubrious winter picture, taken in 1997 at the train station of a small town southwest of Moscow, Aprelevka. The image shows the back of people, hunched, crossing the tracks. In addition to this negative image, the reasoning developed in this article is so outrageously biased for the sole purpose of denigrating Putin’s policies that it mainly shows how liberal opponents of the present Russian governance are short of arguments and ideas. In an attempt to counter the Russian spring, some Western demographic experts are simply reduced to lie.

Population decline of the 90s

Between 1991 and 1999, the Russian birth rate collapsed, and at the same time mortality exploded, so that the population of the country dropped significantly, by almost 1 million people a year. Russia was then in the hands of an elite determined to let the country collapse, in what was presented as an economic transition that seemed out of control, at least within the borders of Russia. During this period, the collapse of the population was historically unprecedented, even worse than what the country had seen during wartime. This demographic fall appeared hopeless and Russia seemed doomed to disappear.

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