August 01, 1998

Russia, Don't Fade Away

Alexander Griboyedov's hero Famusov (see Survival Russian) used to complain to the Creator about how tough it is to be "the father of a grown daughter." Tough it is.

But being the father of a grown son (which I also am) is hardly any easier in today's Russia. Rampant criminality and vagrancy, drug addiction among teens, a culture and secondary education that get second shrift ... What other dangers threatening the young generation need I mention to illustrate the hardship of parenthood in Mother Russia? Rising unemployment? Months long wage arrears? Bank failures and an unstable national currency?

Not exactly the type of situation ripe for a baby boom. So should we really wonder why our country’s population is shrinking by almost 1,000,000 per year, now at less than 147 million (see Note Book). As Alexander Solzhenitsyn justly put it, this loss is comparable to the human casualties suffered during a civil war.

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