The Russian Federation is likely to break apart into as many as 30 pieces by the middle of this century as accelerating demographic decline leads some of its smaller nationalities to take steps to try to ensure their own survival.
Anatoly Antonov, professor of sociology, the family and demography at Moscow State University, says that widely believed assertions by government officials that Russia has been able to increase the birthrate “do not correspond to reality.”
“From 2010 to 2025, every succeeding generation of people entering marriage age will be ever smaller in comparison with the preceding one.” By 2025, half the population will not want children, and only 15% will want more than one. By 2080, Russia’s population could thus fall to 38 million.
“When depopulation begins, a desire will arise among smaller peoples to separate themselves from larger ones,” Antonov says. “The Udmurts, the Komi, the Chuvash and many other small peoples do not want to disappear from the face of the earth,” he says.
Antonov says he and his colleagues are “attempting to calculate” at what point in Russia’s demographic decline will some of these nations begin to seek broader autonomy or independence. “We think,” he says, “that this will take place when Russia’s population falls to between 75 and 65 million.”
Antonov argues one should “try to imagine what would be the situation if Russia were to divide into 30 parts. And this is not a myth, given that under conditions of depopulation, every people will strive to preserve itself from others.”