Moscow believes it’s time to party like it’s 1993.
Moscow is behind only Japan in terms of crashing populations, having lost net population for some time. This is a peculiar threat to a country that would once again be an empire, albeit a threat the rest of the world is slowly but inexorably facing. Russia’s czar-in-all-but-name Vladimir Putin has diligently spent the last ten years fighting the crisis, trying everything from bribing to coercing his citizenry into having babies again.
As yet, the babies aren’t coming. Despite improved economic conditions and health care, Russia’s abortion rate remains stratospheric and its birth rate catastrophic.
So if you’re a dictator over a broken land, and bribes and national natal days and parades and youth groups and all the usual tools of tyrants won’t work, what do you do?
The 1990s sensation — now down to a trio from their glory days as a quartet — will be jetting to Moscow for some magic, some music, and, just perhaps, some baby-making. Somehow, this makes sense in the Kremlin.
The problem of crashing fertility is very real, and poses a long-term threat to regional and indeed global stability and growth. While it might be tempting to laugh at the mighty Russians bring brought low by babies of all things, the truth is that this is a very frightening development across the region, with almost all of the former Soviet republics and satellites endangered.
Except, curiously, Georgia. According to Crisis magazine:
The one place in the world that has truly bucked the trend and holds a lesson for us all is the former Soviet republic of Georgia. Where much of the former Soviet Union aborts like crazy and dies early and drunk, Georgia has rebounded largely under the inspiration of Patriarch Ilia II, the longtime head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, who promised that “he would personally baptize any child born to parents who already had two or more children.” No cash offered, only the healing water of baptism by their spiritual father. Georgia’s fertility rate increased by 20%.
Given the current Patriarch of Moscow, a similar feat appears unlikely. But who knows? Maybe he can borrow some Gregorian monks from Rome and combine Georgian success with Putin’s methods.
At this point, it can’t hurt.
Image Copyright Boyz II Men.