Staunton, April 16 — For the last three months, the Russian population has been declining, and Moscow has coped with this by not publishing its usual monthly data collections or calling attention to the data in any way.
But the regime is not capable of functioning without at least some officials having data, accurate or not, and so the bad news is leaking out.
The Ministry of Labor and Social Development which prepares the monthly reports and which last year issued celebratory statements about positive demographic developments did not publish any reports at all during the first three months of 2015, the result, Moscow analysts say, of a deteriorating situation.
During that quarter, the analysts say, the number of births declined and mortality rates significantly increased. Indeed, the total decline in population for the first three months of 2015 was greater than the total positive growth in the Russian population during all of 2014.
And worse news is likely ahead.
This decline was countrywide, the analysts say, with the population falling in all federal districts with the exception of the North Caucasus, Urals and Far Eastern ones. The numbers are frightening: in February alone, 293,000 Russians were born, 12,000 fewer than during the same month a year ago, and deaths increased by 7500 year on year.
What may be especially worrisome to some Russian commentators is that the only federal district to show a significant increase in the first quarter of 2015 was the heavily Muslim North Caucasus FD, with a positive growth of 11,759. Not only does that boost that area’s population now but it sets the stage for more births among Muslim nationalities in the future.
The only overall positive trend that Russian officials could point to in the first quarter of this year was a slight decline in infant mortality rates, but as other analysts point out, “these data do not take into account the hundreds of thousands of deaths of children as a result of abortions,” where Russia remains “one of the leaders.”
Not publishing data is only one of the means the Putin regime is adopting to cope with numbers it doesn’t like. It is also openly falsifying data or basing its judgments on estimates which the Russian expert community has suggested are deeply flawed, especially in non-census years.