Russia’s Population Shrank by ‘Record’ Margin This Year

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Russia’s population contracted by a record margin of about 86,000 people between January and May, the online newspaper Moscow Times reported on Friday, citing new data from the Russian statistics agency Rosstat.

The decline recorded in Russia’s population over the first four months of this year surpassed a “previous record contraction of 57,000 people a month in 2002, when Russia’s population shrank to 145.3 million from nearly 146 million the previous year,”  the Moscow Times reported on July 29.

The newspaper, citing government data, additionally revealed the following about Russia’s demographics on Friday:

Rosstat’s data showed Russia’s natural population — a figure which counts registered deaths and births, excluding the effects of migration — declined by 355,000 between January and May 2022.

Despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that recent outside estimates say has resulted in the deaths of close to 40,000 Russian troops, the Rosstat data showed deaths declining by 36,100 compared with January-May 2021 and totaling 878,300 in January-May 2022.

Births also declined by 31,100 and totaled 523,200 over the same period. An estimated 75,300 migrants have meanwhile left Russia, or 5,000 fewer than in January-May 2021.

Rosstat’s latest demographic analysis tallied Russia’s population at 145.1 million. This figure represented a decline of 430,000 people from Russia’s last population tally of 145,530,000.

“The rate of Russia’s population decline has almost doubled since 2021 and nearly tripled since 2020,” The Moscow Times’ Russian language service observed on Friday.

Russia’s population has been steadily declining for the past three decades, according to a French demographer named Laurent Chalard.

He spoke to Agence France-Presse (AFP) on May 24 and observed that Russia’s population contractions have been regularly recorded “since 1991, when the Soviet Union fell and Russia counted 148.2 million inhabitants within its far-reaching borders.”

“By 2021, that number had fallen to 146.1 million, according to Russian statistics agency Rosstat. What’s even more striking is that, according to demographic projections, the country’s population will continue to fall and reach between 130 and 140 million inhabitants by 2050,” AFP noted at the time.

Though Russia’s demography crisis seems to have established itself over the past decades, the country’s latest war with neighboring Ukraine — which launched on February 24 — and the Chinese coronavirus pandemic have both likely contributed to its waning population statistics.

“[Russian leader Vladimir] Putin has pursued a vast migration policy by opening Russian borders to immigrant workers who often come from Central Asia, facilitating naturalisation procedures for Russian speakers and giving out Russian passports to inhabitants of neighbouring countries,” according to AFP. “But these migratory movements were stopped dead in their tracks due to Covid-19 [Chinese coronavirus].”

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