Is handing out passports in the Donbas Putin’s solution to Russia’s demographic collapse?

Annual working-age population growth rates worldwide 2015-2020 (Sources: HSBC, UN Population Division data)

Annual working-age population growth rates worldwide 2015-2020 (Sources: HSBC, UN Population Division data) 

International, Op-ed, Russian Aggression

Vladimir Putin’s decision to offer Russian citizenship to those living in Russian-occupied portions of Ukraine and possibly others as well may be intended not only to extend Russian power over that country further but also to help solve Russia’s demographic collapse, according to a Russian blogger who writes under the screen name “Ded Moroz” [Grandfather Frost].

He suggests that the extremely negative demographic figures of recent months mean that “the massive distribution of passports may be the only way to save [Russia] from withering away altogether” (cont.ws/@Ded-Moroz/1310165 reposted at newizv.ru).

If Russian government claims that 86 percent of the population in Russian-occupied portions of the Donbas are correct, this policy would immediately produce some two million new Russian citizens and be a boost to the country’s total population.

Many analysts had concluded that the declining number of women in the prime child-bearing ages and declining birthrates present Russia with an almost intractable problem especially given that the number of immigrants has fallen sharply, Grandfather Frost says. But it turns out that this all can be solved not just by falsification of demographic data but by “the stroke of a pen.”

That falsification is going on, the blogger suggests, is indicated by the increasing delays with which RosStat releases population figures and by the way state-controlled media bury them in their reports and publications. But now there are going to be hundreds of thousands of new Russians, produced instantly by Putin’s decision.

The question, however, is how these are going to be counted – and when the government will release the numbers. When Russia illegally annexed Ukraine’s Crimea, Moscow more or less immediately included the population there within that of the Russian Federation to improve its demographic situation.

Will it do the same with the Donbas? Or will some other calculation intervene? Grandfather Frost provides no guidance on that.

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Edited by: A. N.

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