Russia keeps struggling with its demography


Eastern Europe


Russia's demography is struggling. Fewer children are born and the invasion costs a lot of human lives. Photo AFP, Alexander Nemenov

One of Putin's goals is to reverse the trend of a declining Russian population. However, he does not seem to succeed.

The Russian authorities attempt to bring down the number of abortions to boost the population. Currently, Russian women can get abortion pills freely at the pharmacy. Now, this is about to change. The Russian Ministry of Health wants to get a tighter grip on the distribution of abortion pills. Therefore, it added misoprostol and mifepristone to a list of medicines that can only be distributed by licenced agencies, Moscow Times reports, based on a new decree.

Access to abortion pills will be restricted for a set period of time. The order will come into force on September 1, 2024, and remain valid until September 1, 2030, Moscow Times writes.

Anyone who wants to acquire an abortion pill will need to get a doctor's prescription first. In addition, not all pharmacies can sell the drug except those that are licensed to do so. Also, a record needs to be kept about how many doses are sold.


The Russian Health Ministry justifies its decision by claiming that abortion pills without a doctor's prescription increase the risk of complications and can even lead to death in some cases. In addition, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko wants to "prevent the abuse" of the drugs. Earlier, he denounced women who pursued their careers before having children, calling it an "improper practice."

Meanwhile, the Russian population continues to decline, Le Monde writes. According to the French newspaper, the number of births slumped back to the levels of 1945. At the same time, precise numbers on the demography of Russia are hard to find, Le Monde believes. Statistical agency Rosstat estimated that the total Russian population consisted of about 146 million people at the beginning of this year. That is less than it was in 1999 when Putin came to power.

Private clinic

At the same time, official abortion statistics have also been doubted, Oboz writes. Some experts claim the number of abortions in Russia has declined by 4 per cent, while others believe it has increased by 60 per cent. Some doctors agree with the second.

The Ministry of Health claims that the number of abortions in Russia dropped by 4 per cent to 395.2 thousand cases. However, Rosstat published statistics that showed that there were 506 thousand abortions in 2022.

Also, the gynaecologist of a large private clinic told Oboz that the number of abortions has increased sharply after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. According to the medical expert, this growth even amounted to more than 30 per cent. However, the gynaecologist also pointed out that after six months, the number of requests declined again. "The year ended with a slight increase compared to the previous one."

This discrepancy may be part of an information campaign against abortion and "especially against private clinics that carry out such procedures", Daria Shubina believes. Shubina is the head of the Analytical Centre of authoritative publication about the medical industry. However, as a result, she says, "it is simply impossible to build a competent argument on the issue under discussion."



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