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Russia is undergoing a demographic crisis that is unprecedented in peacetime: the population of Russia declined at comparable rates only when experiencing world wars, repression, or the famine of the 1930s. President Putin, key ministries, and regional elites have all noted the crisis -- with predictions of the current 144.2 million falling to between 120-80 million Russians by 2050. However, although many demographers have charted the causes of failing fertility and rising mortality, including analysis of the age-sex, ethnic, and geographical asymmetries, there is little research into the long-term security implications of such rapid decline for federal stability.
Some general features of the decline include a depopulation of the Russian Far East and North and migration toward the European core and South, and a movement from rural to urban settlement. More specifically, indigenous ethnic communities, invalids, and pensioners are being trapped in poverty ghettos, while educated ethnic Russians of working age with a higher degree of 'migratability' are moving. Differential birthrates between Slav and non-Slavs are widening, and are particularly noticeable between Muslim and Slavic Orthodox communities. Lastly, the Health Ministry calculated that 1 million Russians will have HIV by the end of 2001, and 10 percent of the entire Russian population by 2005.
Political stability will be affected by the decline. Currently, 50 percent of the population lives in the 20 most populous regions and elections are won and lost in the 10 largest -- a factor that internal migration reinforces. Thus the political weight of peripheral regions is decreased, just as Putin's recentralization of political power reduces the 'sovereignty' of ethnic republics and the Muslim population increases. There are two likely interlinked political outcomes. First, the 20-30 million Muslims (15-30 percent of the population and rising) will begin to demand greater political representation within the elite. Second, a Russian nationalist 'traditional Slavic values' backlash is likely to be fuelled by fears of national survival and the perceived threat posed by minority groups to state identity.
Military security is most obviously transformed by a declining population. Here the impetus will be to make real the rhetoric of military reform force reduction, the shift from a conscript to professional army. However, the closing of military bases, particularly those in the Russian Far East, further exacerbates internal migration patterns from periphery to center, and paradoxically renders border areas of greater strategic importance yet harder to defend. Moreover, economic productivity will also fall as a consequence of population decline, undercutting attempts to construct an RMA-type (Revolution in Military Affairs) low number, high-tech army.
Economic instability will also have an impact on stability, a problem that in 2015 will be particularly acute. As the baby boomers of the 1950s and 1960s retire, the lack of children born in the 1990s will affect the workforce, creating a 20 percent shortfall in labor reserves. The dependency ratio between young and old will mean that the state must pay more toward pensions and health care and less on economic modernization. A further dilemma will occur if moderate economic growth is registered: at that point deferred migrants will move from the periphery; economic stagnation stabilizes population distribution. Only massive economic growth will allow Soviet era-style subsidies and incentives to support state-sponsored demographic engineering and the increase of populations in peripheral areas.
It is calculated that the 20 percent labor reserve shortfall can only be met through immigration and then only half can consist of Slavic CIS workers, while the rest will be Chinese. Some analysts predict a Russian Chinese population of 10-30 million by 2050 and point to the societal security implications of such a large minority. While Chinese economic networks will improve cross-border trade, provide employment, increase local tax revenues, and generate investment, they will also generate interethnic tension and 'identity politics,' particularly in the Far East. In the context of high crime rates and housing shortages, unemployment differentials between Slavic and nonSlavic communities' social and societal polarization will increase.
The federal foreign policy implications of such internal instability can be easily gauged. The Russian diaspora becomes an end in itself, not simply a means to an end as various studies have demonstrated in the Baltic states. Competition for Slavic migrants between Russia, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine becomes an issue of rising strategic importance within CIS security politics, as does the pressure for the Russia-Belarus Union. Massive Chinese immigration to the Far East and Siberia places strains on the Russo-Chinese Strategic Partnership, and both legal and illegal migration to the EU shapes Schengen border regimes, and the fear of a 'Fortress Europe.'
Russia's policy responses to such predicted decline -- the drafting of a Migration Policy and the Demography Blueprint -- will prove to be a litmus test for Putin's ability to shape the federation. The issue of population decline will have to be factored into the strategic planning by the presidential administration and all power ministries and will expose and reinforce structural, institutional, and systemic weaknesses within the federation. It will also prove a crucial factor in the way in which globalization affects the federation, increasing the tendency toward localization -- those trapped communities are increasingly isolated -- and selective integration, as migration from and to the federation increases. Russia's destiny will be shaped by demographic decline through the new century.
UKRAINIAN LEFTISTS MARK OCTOBER REVOLUTION DAY... Some 1,500 people participated in a march and a rally organized by leftist parties and organizations in Kyiv on 7 November to mark the 84th anniversary of the Bolshevik coup in Russia in 1917, Interfax reported. The demonstrators adopted a resolution that condemns the government for "moral and social terror against the working people," slams Ukraine's cooperation with the U.S. and NATO, and protests the recently adopted Land Code allowing private land sales. Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko slammed the government for permitting U.S. transport planes to cross Ukrainian airspace in the campaign against Afghanistan's Taliban. There were also October Revolution demonstrations in other Ukrainian cities: Simferopol (3,000 people), Sevastopol (3,000), Dnipropetrovsk (1,000), Odessa (300), Kharkiv (200), and Lviv (100). JM
...WHILE PRESIDENT PROMISES LAND TO PEASANTS. Leonid Kuchma said on 7 November that he will certainly sign the Land Code, but added that the parliament will have to pass some 30 other bills in order to enact the code properly. "Some suggested that I sign the code today. Well, I did say at a meeting with farmers today that Vladimir Ilyich Lenin had promised [land] back in 1917 and we were, so to say, fulfilling this commandment. We can say that the land has been handed over for good to those who work on it, to agricultural workers directly," the New Channel television quoted Kuchma as saying. JM
UKRAINE'S NATIONAL SALVATION FORUM BECOMES YULIYA TYMOSHENKO BLOC. The antipresidential National Salvation Forum led by former Deputy Premier Yuliya Tymoshenko has been renamed the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc, Interfax reported on 7 November, quoting Sobor Party leader Anatoliy Matviyenko. Apart from the Sobor Party, the bloc includes the Fatherland Party, Social Democratic Party, Republican Party, Conservative Republican Party, Patriotic Party, and Christian Democratic Party. Tymoshenko said the bloc has already agreed on candidate quotas on a joint election list in next year's parliamentary ballot, but gave no details. JM
SPANISH FOREIGN MINISTER IN KYIV. Ukraine and Spain on 7 November signed an agreement on cooperation in combating crime, an accord on scientific and technological cooperation, and a memorandum on consultations between their foreign ministries. Following talks with Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Pique, his Ukrainian counterpart Anatoliy Zlenko said both countries will soon sign documents on the prevention of double taxation as well as on cultural cooperation and tourism. Pique assured Zlenko that during its presidency in the EU in 2002, Spain will offer all-round support to Ukraine regarding Kyiv's integration with Europe. JM
UKRAINE TO EXPORT 7 MILLION TONS OF GRAIN. Ukraine will export some 7 million tons of grain from this year's record harvest by July 2002, UNIAN news agency reported, quoting Ukrainian Agriculture Minister Ivan Kyrylenko. Ukrainian companies have already exported around 2 million tons of grain and concluded contracts to export 4.5 million tons more. According to the minister, Ukrainian exports are limited only by the capacity of its ports and railways. The main customers buying Ukrainian grain are in the Middle East and the Far East (North Korea). JM