Mar 22, 2009
What's Russia's latest plan to increase its population? Programs to combat alcoholism and drug abuse? Programs to improve health care? WAY OFF.
According to the NY Times, Russia is trying to head off the country’s severe population decline by luring back Russians who live abroad as well as their descendants. Moscow has spent $300 million in the past two years to get the repatriation program started, attracting many ethnic Russians who were living in former Soviet republics after the Soviet collapse in 1991.
However, the program has also attracted Russians from as far as Uruguay and Brazil. Many of these South American Russians are descendants of Russian Old Believers who fled the country back in the 1920s, because you know, they wanted religious freedom and to not die. And they've agreed to move to the Russian Far East...it takes a special type of individual to leave Brazil for Vladivostok.
Meanwhile almost all old believers living in Alaska and Oregon have chosen to stay in America, claiming that Russia is still communist and not a democracy. And in fact, while 25 million people are eligible for the program, only 10,300 people have agreed to return. So, how much this really helps Russia's remains to be seen. The United Nations meanwhile still predicts that the country will fall to 116 million people by 2050 (an 18% decline). Back to the drawing board, I think.