Government / Politics / Russia

Adding Facts to [forbes] Five Myths About Russia


So Mark Adomanis, published an article in Forbes attempting to refute myths regarding the Russian Federation’s socio-economic indicators.  While he is certainly correct, the lack of attributable sources for his data only perpetuates the lack of credible information he intends to oppose. I’ve decided to add some credible sources to his ‘myths’.

Forbes’ Five Myths About Russia:

1. Russia’s population is “shrinking rapidly” 
2. Russia’s economy is in “serious decline” 
3. Just like the Soviet Union, Russia ”spends all of its money on the military” 
4. Russia’s alcohol epidemic “continues unabated” 
5. Russians “have more abortions than kids” 

1. Your graph is illustrative. I have no idea where you got your facts, but it turns out they are pretty accurate.  According to data from the World Bank the population of Russia has been increasing since 2004. In 2011 and 2012, it has stabilized at 0.4%.

2. The Russian economy is not declining. However, the growth rate by which they are increasing has recently declined.  (Let’s talk in GDP, Per Capita, PPP, as an annual %) In 2010, Russia’s highest peak since 2007 was at 4.15%. In 2011, this decreased to 3.87% and in 2012 it was measured at 3.03%. (World Bank Data 2012).

3. Mark Adomanis actually has a lot of data RE: Russian defense spending. His most recent article, describes the difference between Russia’s defense spending as a percentage of GDP and real monetary value. His chart, is pretty cool too (see below)

4. Russia has an alcohol problem. Deciding to use ‘deaths related to alcohol poisoning’ as a measurement of the government’s effectiveness in combating this problem is probably not a very accurate indicator. Many deaths are not reported accurately and alcohol-related deaths are very common (and very different than alcohol-caused deaths.  To gain some perspective, I’d just like to highlight things the government has been doing to combat alcoholism.

Effective in 2013, beer is to beconsidered an alcoholic beverage.  This is a big deal in Russia!  The sale of beer has never been restricted by alcohol consumption laws because they are not consdiered an alcoholic beverage.  Before this law, anything over 10% alcohol was considered an alcoholic beverage.

However, according to local news outlets the production of ‘samagon’, Russia’s version of moonshine or home brewed alcohol, has been increasing.

5. Abortions and reproductive health.  The World Bank produces information regarding the prevalence of contraception. Russia’s all-time high was expereinced in 2004 at 83.8%. This has continued to decline to 79.5% in 2007.  According to RIA Novosti,

“Abortion is legal up to 12 weeks of pregnancy with exceptions up to 22 weeks for some medical cases, according to a new law passed in 2011.”

Restrictions on abortions in Russia are relatively new. They were the first country to legally allow abortions and have very recently began restricting them.

Further Reading. 
Abad-Santos, Alexander. “In Russia, Beer Will No Longer Be A Food.” The Atlantic Wire: 31 December 2012.
Chesnokova, Yekaterina. “Russia plans to cut alcohol consumption in half by 2020.” RIA Novosti: 13 January 2010.
Fedorenko, Vladimi. “Duma Approves Law Banning Abortion Ads.” RIA Novosti: 9 April 2013.
Kishkovsky, Sophia.  “Russia Enacts Law Opposing Abortion.” New York Times: 15 July 2011.
Author Not Listed. “Russia’s Losing Bet: Anti-alcohol Campaign Drives Away Foreign Brewers.” Russia Today: 23 August 2013.

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