The natural population of Russia suffered its largest peacetime decline in recorded history over the past 12 months, according to an analysis of official government statistics by a prominent independent demographer, as the country battles a deadly fourth wave of the Covid pandemic -19.
The natural population, a number calculated from deaths and birthsrecorded, excluding the impact of migration, decreased by 997,000 between October 2020 and September 2021, demographer Alexei Raksha calculated .
Russia has been one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic, registering at least 660,000 excess deaths since early 2020, according to government data, and the dramatic drop appears to show the the devastating toll that the pandemic has had on the social fabric of the country.
Previous government reports have shown Russia's population decline in 2020 was 11 times that of pre-pandemic 2019.
" It's pretty simple, deaths from Covid-19 are the main reason for the observed decline. Most of the other factors have remained the same, "said Raksha, a population forecaster who left the Russian state agency Rosstat last year after criticizing figures from the Coronavirus Information Center.
He pointed out that the Birth rate had not decreased over the past year, indicating This decrease was due to the increased death rate in Russia.
Despite the widely available vaccines, Russia on Wednesday recorded a new record number of coronavirus deaths, as Russians continue to be skeptical of Russian-made vaccines, with only a third of the population fully vaccinated.
"I don'tnot see how the situation can improve given the current trajectory of vaccine hesitancy and no restrictions, "Raksha added.
Raksha said the current population decline could be compared to the decline observed between July 1999 and June 2000, when Russia's population fell by 983,000, after a decade of economic instability, which caused rates to plummet. birth rates and life expectancy.
Russia's population decline was already high on the Kremlin's agenda before the pandemic and Experts say Covid-19 only exacerbates the problem.
Russia's total population of around 145 million is lower than what 'she was when Vladimir Putin first came to power in 2000.
The Russian president admitted at his 2019 annual press conference that the perspective of a depopulation of Russia " haunted "him. Reversing the demographic crisis by the end of his term in 2024 was one of the key commitments announced during his 2018 re-election campaign.
The Kremlin has over the years introduced a number of policies and social benefits to stimulate lower birth rates, including programs that make generous payments to families with more only two children.
Despite his efforts, however, a 2019 government report said that the population of Russia could drop by more than 12 million by 2035.
Kremlin critics say the government has also used the population crisis to justify its repression on the LGBT community, introducing the 'banning "gay propaganda " and banning adoption for same-sex couples in an effort to promote so-called traditional family values.