New Documentary Shows Collapse of Russia’s Population

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 9, 2011   |   5:20PM   |   Moscow, Russia

In its latest short Internet documentary, the Population Research Institute (PRI) pays a visit to Russia, to discuss the country’s plummeting birthrates and skyrocketing death rates.

This fast-paced, 12-minute documentary represents a new direction for PRI’s video efforts, says PRI’s media director Colin Mason.

“We’re trying to find a more immediate approach to introducing people to these issues,” Mason explains. “While the facts and numbers are obviously important, we have found that it’s much more effective to get boots on the ground and actually discuss these topics head-on with the affected people. We think that this approach really makes the problems real to our audience. And that’s precisely what we’ve done in this video. We were in Russia for the World Congress of Families, and we took the opportunity to address the demographic problem with the very people who were being impacted.”

“We’re really proud of this new show,” says Mason. “It uses a host of new video technologies that we’ve recently put into place at PRI, not only to improve the quality of our video but to make them faster and easier to make. But not only that, it also represents a more immediate approach we’ve taken to introducing people to our issues.”

PRI’s president Steven Mosher, who appears prominently in the documentary, agrees, saying that Russia is “demographically crumbling,” and that PRI’s latest video does an excellent job of illustrating the human cost of this.

“If Russia doesn’t turn its birthrate around fast,” says Mosher, “its human landscape will soon resemble the crumbling Soviet monuments that we visited. It is imperative for the survival of the Russian people that they once again take command of their fertility and begin renewing themselves. Only then will they be able to turn their economy and their culture around.”

In July, Russia approved the first pro-life law the nation has passed since it fell under communist rule and the law is a reaction to the alarmingly high abortion rates the nation sees, which has sparked an underpopulation crisis.

President Dmitry Medvedev signed into law a measure that informed women of the risks associated with an abortion prior to her having one. Russia has some of the highest abortion rates in the world, with some women having as many as six or more abortions, and the risks associated with abortions such as increasing the risk of breast cancer or premature birth in subsequent pregnancies, needs to be made known.

The Kremlin said the law is aimed at “protecting the health of the woman” from dangers associated with abortion, such as sterility. The law requires that any ads for abortions carry information about the risks and that the risk information occupy no less than 10 percent of the space of the magazine or newspaper ad. [related]

With more than one million having abortions annually in Russia, the nation’s population has dropped from 145 million in 2002 to under 143 million as the death rate now exceeds the birth rate. Coming in below replacement level, Russia’s population will not be able to support its elderly citizens and the nation faces an acute worker shortage.

The summary on the Web site said the new law “is directed on the whole towards protecting women’s health and makes it mandatory for advertising of medical services on the artificial termination of pregnancy to include warnings on the danger of this procedure for women’s health and the possible harmful consequences, including infertility.” The bill also stipulates that mothers who don’t want to keep their babies will be able to leave their newborn children anonymously in special adoption centers, the Novosti news agency indicates.