‘Voters, I Shrunk the Nation’ – A Slogan for Russia’s Elections?

Posted October 31st, 2011 at 6:25 am (UTC+0)

My Russia Watch on the plight of Tajik migrant workers in Russia earned me grumpy emails, many from Russian nationalists. This Friday, November 4, is National Unity Day in Russia, the annual holiday that nationalists celebrate as their own.

After dressing up on Friday for National Unity Day, why not undress after the parade? Russian nationalists despair falling birth rates of the nation

So, in honor of Unity Day, I devote this column to you, Russian Nationalists. Right-thinking guys and gals, after the rally, after raising a ruckus on the metro, why not go home, fold up your Czarist banners for next year, unlace the storm trooper boots, have a glass of wine (one), relax, and, you know, maybe procreate a bit. Create cute little baby nationalists.
Modern young Russians have no aversion to sex.
It’s the reproduction part that seems to be a problem. Abortions outnumber live births in Russia.
You may have seen the demonstrations of frustrated grandmothers who march into the metro, corner fertile younger women, and wave signs reading: “Have a Baby!”
So, guys, step up to the plate. Do your patriotic duty: Be a Dad!
In Japan, they used to say, young women prefer the (designer) handbag over the baby. In Russia’s consumer-crazed society, many couples choose a Turkish vacation over changing the diapers.
With no mindset change in sight, Russia’s population shrinkage is slowly moving through society.
The latest victim is the nationalists’ favorite institution: the Russian Army.

Endangered species? Russian soldiers training for May 9, 2011 Victory Day parade. VOA Photo: James Brooke

In fall 2009, the Russian Army drafted 305,000 young men.
In fall 2010, the Army drafted 280,000 men.
In fall 2011, the Army is drafting 136,000 men.
Get the trend? Forget about the million man army.
Part of that drop is because draft dodging is such a national sport in Russia it could be included in the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. Depending on the region, a false medical exemption costs between $4,000 and $7,000.
After five years in Moscow, I can count on my left hand the number of Russian men I know under 35 years of age who have performed their obligatory military service. (When Muscovites hear that one of my sons, now in university, aspires to be an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, they think that he – and I — have holes in our heads.)
Faced with a dwindling number of healthy young Russian men interested in military service, Russia’s Defense Ministry now is debating forming a French-style “Foreign Legion.” Under this scheme, foreigners who sign up for five year contracts would be eligible for Russian citizenship after three years.

Russian soldiers parading on Red Square. Ten years from now, will a Russian Foreign Legion unit march across the cobblestones? VOA Photo: James Brooke

Guess where foreign volunteers will come from?
The same Central Asia nations that now provide about 10 percent of Russia’s workforce of 74 million people.
Take Tajikistan. Before independence , about 10 percent of the republic’s population was ethnic Russian, Ukrainian or German. In the 20 years since independence, Tajikistan’s total population has increased by 40 percent. (De-colonization can have unexpected benefits.) As a result, half of Tajikistan’s population of 7.5 million tis now under 21 years of age. Guess who is going to be looking for work in the 2010s?

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, right, welcomes an Orthodox relic believed to promote female fertility. On loan from a Greek monastery, the Belt of the Virgin Mary arrived in St. Petersburg on Oct. 20, 2011, and is to tour the nation -- from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok. AP: Alexei Nikolsky

Contrast that with Russia.
According to preliminary results of the Russia’s 2010 census, there are 142.9 million people living in Russia – a 1.5 percent drop since the previous census, in 2002.
But, last July, the CIA’s World Factbook published a lower population estimate – 138.7 million. This would represent a 4.4 percent population fall in one decade. This loss of 6.4 million people during the 2000s is comparable to the loss of Russia’s entire population between Lake Baikal and the Pacific Coast.

More dramatic than contraction is the aging profile of Russia’s population. Russia, like Japan and Europe, is moving steadily toward a world where there will soon be one retiree for every two workers.
With the ranks of Russian pensioners swelling by the day, authorities pray for continued high prices for Russia’s oil and gas. That way Europe will keep shipping truckloads of money east, covering the Soviet generation’s massive, unfunded pension liabilities.

For months, rumors have circulated in Moscow that the 2010 Census results would not be rosy.
In mid-October, Rosstat, the Federal Statistical Service, scheduled a census press conference — for mid-December. Conveniently, this will take place after people cast their ballots in Dec. 4 parliamentary elections.

Two decades ago, the American comedy movie, “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” was funny.
But this week, it would not be a great vote getter for Prime Minister Putin to review his decade running Russia, and then announce on National Unity Day: “Voters, I Shrunk the Nation.”

James Brooke
James Brooke is the Russia/CIS bureau chief for Voice of America. A lifelong journalist, he covered West Africa, Brazil, the American Rocky Mountain States, Canada, and Japan/Korea for The New York Times. A resident of Moscow since 2006, he was first Bloomberg bureau chief for the region. In 2010, he joined VOA. In addition to writing Russia Watch, his weekly blog, he also does video, radio and web reports from Russia and the former USSR.

11 responses to “‘Voters, I Shrunk the Nation’ – A Slogan for Russia’s Elections?”

  1. Gennady says:

    The article is excellent!
    The statistics illustrates one of the tragedies – demographic one,
    Mr. Putin and his Party have inflicted upon Russia.
    With the greatest precision James pointed out the most painful sores for Russia under his leadership.
    He has shrunk the Russian Nation, indeed.
    In 11 years of his ruthless ruling neither he, nor his ministers, nor his Party were unable to reverse the depopulation of the largest country set alone stop its decline.

    Under the PM
    Russians are simply dying out:
    young people are in poverty and malnutrition, they are kept in medical ignorance under exorbitant cost of “free healthcare”,
    with incompetent and unreliable medical staff, highly expensive “free public education”, lawlessness for medical errors,
    and beyond any measure corruption, unemployment, absence of any prospects.

    With billions $ in oil and gas revenues the Kremlin has neither time nor ideas, nor skills to consider the problems.
    Health care in the country is horrible with unprofessional guidance.
    What can one expect of Health minister being an accountant by vocation?
    One third of billion rubles spending in health care is swindled and stolen by roll-backs and kicks-off.
    Bribery in hospitals is beyond anybody’s imagination with money being extorted.
    Having been admitted to a hospital anyone will die unless he/she pays to a nurse for just coming up.
    Medicines are of poor quality by exorbitant prices. Medical laboratories are of XIX century standards. Life-saving equipment is worn-out and malfunctioning.
    Horrific state of Russian hospitals. To meet a drunken doctor in a hospital is sooner the rule rather than an exception.
    Even the easiest way to promote self-education, self care and health related knowledge among young people is heavily censored, for in Russian Wikipedia one hardly will find a contemporary page on any health issues promoting healthy way of life.

    It’s a blasphemy to see the FSB man leaned over an Orthodox priest in the photo
    after highly cherished by him NKVD in cold blood shot thousands innocent priests and demolished hundreds upon hundreds churches.

  2. Darren says:

    Stupid article actually. All white nations diminish in numbers very rapidly these days. The author knows this but does not mention – to present Putin in bad light.
    In times when birth rate is low the right solution is to prevent mass immigration by all means – to save the Slavic Nation.

  3. Gennady says:

    Darren’s post doesn’t hold water with the lie:
    “All white nations diminish in numbers very rapidly these days.”

    How about Tajikistan 26.29 births/1,000 population
    Kyrgyzstan 23.66,
    Israel 19.24,
    Ireland 16.1,
    United States 13.83,
    United Kingdom 12.29 ?

  4. Gennady says:

    Even more revealing picture of Darren’s lie
    comes when one compares rate of Russia’s dying out under the PM Putin
    if to take into account Infant’s mortality rate all over the world.

    and Crude death rate
    Russia 16.2 deaths/1,000persons
    Germany 10.7
    United Kingdom 9.9
    United States 8.2

  5. Darren1 says:

    Gennady, I was speaking about white European nations, not middle eastern, like Israel, or Asian like Tajikistan. Yes, USA could be an exception but even there people of European origin soon will become a minority. But if you take European people, say Germans or Italians, the all risk to be extinct soon, unless they stop mass immigration till better times when their own numbers start to grow again.

  6. Gennady says:

    To Darren1

    Your details and intricacies don’t oppose the main point of the article
    “Voters I shrunk the Russian Nation”.
    The slogan remains invincible and is supported by data in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_past_and_future_population

    By 2015 total population in Russia will shrink by – 0.49%. By 2050 it will shrink by more -0.67%.

    At the same time and among others, such countries as Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Israel, United Kingdom and United States will continue to grow.

    So, are there any other contra-arguments?

  7. Pyotr says:

    Exellent and clever article! The slogans of true Russian nationalists should be “Learn and make your children learn! Think! Do not betray your family! If you betray your family you betray your Motherland! Do not drink alcohol, do not use any drug! Love your wife and have at least 2 healthy children if you want to grant the prosperity to your nation! Russia is for clever and educated people! Be one!!!” If these were the nationalists’ aims I would happily be a Russian nationalist.

  8. Darren says:

    Pyotr, I would agree with you 100% if the only function of a nationalist is the family function. Of course you are right when personal life style is discussed.

    But remember, a healthy and free society is only possible if members take an active political position. This is what I was talking about. Which political position is needed to save Russian people. Russian nationalist are trying to oppose Medvedev and Putin, who do not care about the survival of Russian ethnicity at all. They even never mention the term “Russian people” as though such people do not exist. Zyoganov seems to be much more pro-Russian, at least in his words. I would support him if you worry about the destiny of Russian people. After all under communists, say from 1976 to 1986 the number of Russians increased by 10 millions!

    In response to Gennady I should say that in terms of the birth rate Russia is doing better than some of the developed countries like Germany, Italy, Netherlands. The phenomenon of low birth rate among White European people is well know and I doubt that Putin is solely responsible for its occurrence in Russia. The numbers Russians dropped under Gorbachev and Eltzyn also. From 1986 to 1996 the total umber of Russians dropped by 10 millions. This was probably a higher rate than even with Putin.

    Russian nationalist should have many children, for sure. But they also should take an active political position and oppose mass immigration. The birth rate can go down or up. The population can shrink a bit and then can grow again. This is not a problem. But if the gene pool is lost by mixing the Slavic population with immigrants, this would be impossible to undo.

    Also, if immigrants have many more children, they will expel Russians sooner or later. This is what Mexicans do in California with respect to Americans of European origin. When Mexicans become a majority they will make sure that California goes back to Mexico. This is the result of mass immigration of people who have many more children on average. This can happen in Russia if the immigration is not strictly controlled. People who say otherwise want Russians to loose their land basically.

    In conclusion Russian nationalists should have a productive personal life and have many kinds (three is the absolute minimum, two is not enough). They also need to have a firm political position opposing mass immigration into their native land. They also should oppose oppression of other people, living in their own home lands. For example, oppose any possible oppression of Chechen people or oppose any wrongdoing with respect to Ukrainians. Basically the rule should be “do not give away what is your (your Russian land) and do not take what belongs to other nations”.

  9. Darren2 says:

    Pyotr, yes having many kids and taking good care of them is a must for any nationalist – three kinds minimum, I would say.
    But this is not enough . A free and healthy people can only exist if people take an active political position also. This is what the author, James Brooke, does not want Russian people to have – a political strength, a share of political power for Russian people in Russia. Without taking power Russians might disappear because politicians such as Medvedev and Putin, who do not care about Russian people per say, open borders and allow other people, who are more or less loyal to the government, to take over the land and replace ethnic Russians.

    This is exactly what is happening in California, USA, for example (globalists rule everywhere these days). Mexicans come, legally and illegally, have many kinds and they soon will be the majority. As this happens Americans of European origin will be expelled and California will probably go to Mexico (80% of Mexican Americans have more loyalty to Mexico than to USA, even if they are born in the USA). So having many kids is important but not enough really to hold your own land for your people. People need to organize to stand for their collective interests (again this is what J. Brooke does not want to mention). If, for example, European Americans would have a political party representing them, they might have stopped this massive takeover of the land their ancestors fought for. Mexicans do have a political party, called National Council of La Raza (NCLR), and this gives them a huge advantage. Organized people is much harder to defeat.

    So Russians too need a party representing their interests. And they need a homeland, like Jews have Israel and Chinese have China. But Russians don’t have any homeland: Putin said something like ”Russia for Russians in is a slogan of idiots” (while Russians are still 80% of the population). Medvedev and Putin, and James Brooke together with them, do not want to see Russians gain any political power as an ethnic group in their own country. This is the main reason James writes his article.

    • Pyotr says:

      Darren, I absolutely agree with the first part of your reply, but I definitely cannot see why you consider James as a malevelent person wishing Russians plight and extermination. On the contrary, I see him opposing Putin and Medvedev and wishing us to become free and prosperous nation.
      Yeah, Russia for Russians! If we call Russian a clever, educated person who persepts Russian language and culture as his own, perhaps christian, preferably atheist and certainly not muslim. As for the genes it is hard to say who is a Russian genetically. I am a Siberian, look like a typical Russian, but one eighth of me is gipsy and one sixteenth is jew and who knows how much of local siberians and mongoloid blood in my veins. So I don’t mind if a Chechen calls himself Russian if he is not muslim, speaks Russian and consider it as his native language from the moment he becomes Russian. But Russia is certainly not for those who come here to call themselves whatever they may be, not willing to become Russian and establishing their barbaric habits on Russian soil. But the bitter truth is, Russians are afraid to decide for themselves, they lack resposibility, always tend to let somebody to decide for them in return for one’s promises. So the first priority for Russians is to learn how to think independently and stick to each other, and this comes only through education and strong family.

  10. Darren says:

    Thanks Pyotr for your interesting comments. I also agree with many things you say. But on top of this it is important for Russians, as for any other group, which wants to protect its interest, to organize.
    Jim served the New York Times – the voice and the big force of globalism. They oppose by all means possible the Americans of European origin to organize as a group while they promote other racial group like Mexican “La Raza”. Thus they effectively help to reduce European Americans to a minority in the country they created (USA). This is genocide basically.
    This is what they want to happen to Russians too – to become a minority in Russia. The key element to prevent this is not kids or healthy life style (note that European Americans have all this), but to organize Russians as a political force. This is what globalists don’t want to happen. In the USA people are more healthy and have stronger families and better education than in Russia and yet the people of European origin loose their country and soon will become a minority. Why? Because they do not have a political party standing for their interests.
    Thank you Jim for allowing me to post on you blog.



James Brooke is VOA Moscow bureau chief, covering Russia and the former USSR. With The New York Times, he worked as a foreign correspondent in Africa, Latin America, Canada and Japan/Koreas. He studied Russian in college during the Brezhnev years, first visited Moscow as a reporter during the final months of Gorbachev, and then came back for reporting forays during the Yeltsin and early Putin years. In 2006, he moved to Moscow to report for Bloomberg. He joined VOA in Moscow in 2010. Follow Jim on Twitter @VOA_Moscow.



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