Eine direkte militärische Konfrontation zwischen den beiden Atommächten ist von beiden Seiten nicht wünschenswert, wie man spätestens nach der Able Archer Situation erkannte, in der die sehr echt erscheinende Simulation eines Nuklearangriffs ausgehend von der USA Russland beinahe dazu brachte, versehentlich einen Erstschlag zu führen und mindestens hunderte Tausende, wahrscheinlicher noch Millionen von Menschen getötet hätte, hätte der Verantwortliche für jene Ausführung nicht den Befehl verweigert.
So geschieht es, dass man wirtschaftlich und geostrategisch Krieg führt. William Engdahl argumentiert, dass die Islamische Welt ins Chaos gestürzt werden soll um Russland und China wirtschaftlich zu schwächen. Die Planung der Installation von Abwehrraketen vor den Türen der russischen Föderation weckt großes Misstrauen in Russland und stellt eine Bedrohung für deren nationale Sicherheit dar. Doch es gibt auch weitere Möglichkeiten, um Russland weiter zu schwächen.
Der Vorwurf, dass Putins Regime undemokratisch agiere lässt sein Volk, wie auch ich kurz nach den Moskauer Protesten, der von Putinregime als ein Putschversuch gedeutet wird, indem oppositionelle Parteien von außen unterstützt und gegen das Regime aufgehetzt werden, erfahren habe, lässt das russische Volk eher kalt liegen. Bewegende Bilder von Molotow Coktails au den Straßen Moskaus, wie sie auf Fox News dargestellt wurden, konterte Russia today mit der Enthüllung, dass es sich tatsächlich um die Proteste in Griechenland gehandelt habe.
Am stärksten erinnern sich viele wohl an die Pussy-Riot-Affäre. Das Schicksal drei rebellischer Mädchen wurde stärker hervorgehoben, als die Menschenrechtsprobleme in allen Möglichen Ländern in der Welt. Was für einen Nutzen hätte eine solche PR gegen das Putin-Regime. Da die Propagierung eines demokratischen Systems vom russischen Volk weniger enthusiastisch angenommen wurde, wenn überhaupt, griff man zu anderen Mitteln. Abgesehen von der noch immer existierenden Pietät in Russland, die durch die Einführung des Kommunismus jedoch stark geschwächt wurde, hat die christlich-orthodoxe Tradition insofern einen demographischen Nutzen, als dass jene Tradition die Institution fördert.
Aufgrund des zweiten Weltkrieges, in denen die russischen Opfer mindestens das vierfache der Opfer des Holocausts entsprachen, war bereits ein demographischer Wandel zu erkennen, welcher durch eine Vielzahl von Faktore, wie den starken Alkoholkonsum, das nicht bloß ein leeres Klichée st, bestärkt wurde, da die Rate der Alkoholtoten in Russland bedenkenswert hoch ist und dazu drängt, dass man nicht mehr von einem Bevölkerungswachstum, sondern zu einer Bevölkerungsreduzierung sprechen kann, welche umso verheerender durch die Auswanderung vieler Damen ist, die in der existierenden Armut die Möglichkeit der legalen Prostitution in Europa willkommen heißen. Ein weiteres Problem, worüber auch in Deutschland gerne fters berichtet wird, ist die Entrechtung homosexueller Menschen, die öffentlich die Homosexualität nicht propagieren dürfen. Der ohnehin schon mehr als bedrohliche Trend der demographischen Depopulation in Russland wird durch die Propagierung der Homosexualität in Russland nicht weniger gehemmt.
Russlands Lage ist bedrohlich und auch die islamische Gemeinde, die kultur. Und religionsbedingt weiter und weiter wächst, wird aufmerksam betrachtet, wenn das Putin Regime auch sehr viel wert darauf legt, gute Beziehungen mit der islamischen Welt und den Muslimen innerhalb Russlands zu pfegen, da diese Kohäsion notwendig für die wirtschaftlichen Beziehung ist und ein Schutz vor dem gemeinsamen Feind.
Russia: Western Media Politics and its Connection to Current Demographic Trends
Die Kuba-Krise im Jahr 1962 hat der Welt gezeigt, wie realistisch ein bevorstehender Atomkrieg tatsächlich sein kann. Nur vorläufig entspannte sich die Lage zwischen der damaligen UDSSR und den Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika. Zwei Dekaden später drohte die nächste große Eskalation zwischen den zwei Weltmächten, die wohl verheerende Implikationen für die internationale Staatengemeinschaft mit sich gebracht hätte. Es muss seit dem Able-Archer-Vorfall im Jahr 1983 – eine Übung, in der die sehr realistisch erscheinende Simulation eines Atomerstschlages der NATO beinahe zu einem atomaren Erstschlag der UDSSR geführt hätte – gewesen sein, als beide Regierungen einsahen, dass eine direkte militärische Konfrontation für niemanden von Vorteil ist. Seitdem ist es nur natürlich, dass der Fokus im Hinblick auf die politische Schwächung anderer Staaten auf andere Maßnahmen gelegt wird. Auch wenn die militärische und politische Macht der russischen Föderation beachtlich ist, haben die Gegenspieler scheinbar einen Schwachpunkt gefunden: Russlands negative demographische Trend.
Wie unten erläutert wird, wird dieser Trend durch die betriebene Medienpolitik in der westlichen Welt nur noch weiter beschleunigt. Viele Menschen im West reagierten mit Fassungslosigkeit, als sie in der westlichen Presse von bestimmten Problemen in Russland erfuhren in den letzten Jahren. Allerdings, dürfen wir nicht vergessen, dass unser Sorgen und Ideale nicht immer auf die Sorgen und Ideale anderer Völker anwendbar sind. Tatsächlich mögen einige „westliche“ Sorgen und Probleme, wie etwa die globale Erwärmung, der Kampf für Demokratie und der exponentielle Bevölkerungswachstum gar ironisch für viele Russen erscheinen, die in einem Land leben, in dem es Menschen gibt, die zu Tode erfrieren, in einem Land, wo die demokratischste Phase vom Zerfall der Sowjet Union gefolgt wurde, was nur noch mehr zu einer wirtschaftlichen Misere führte, und in einem Land, wo in den letzten Jahren mehr Menschen gestorben als geboren worden sind. Letzteres wird in dieser Analyse besonders in Betracht gezogen.
Gewiss sprechen wir nicht von dem Bewusstsein des Volkes bezüglich der oben genannten Punkte. Auch sprechen wir nicht von ihrem Bewusstsein bezüglich irgendeiner empirischen Beobachtung. Vielmehr sprechen wir von einer kollektiven Mentalität, die durch einem Trauma geprägt ist, von den furchtbaren Kriegen bis hin zum Zerfall der Sowjetunion. Die Ursachen für ein Trauma können einem Land genauso zugeordnet werden wie einem Individuum. Der „Patient“, in diesem Fall ein Staat, wird durch seine Vergangenheit geführt bis er den Wendepunkt erkennt, der ihn zu seinen gegenwärtigen Problem geführt hat. Nur durch eine solche „Therapie“ und, viel wichtiger noch, durch Selbstreflexion erkennt man die Ursachen.
If we take a look at what has arguably been the main internal issue in Russia, its demographic trend and the respective implications, which will be dealt with in the first part, and connect this to what has recently been highlighted in Western news media reports on Russia, which will be dealt with in the second part, we will find answers on why Western news media has highlighted those issues, and at the same time it will become clear why, for so long, the negative demographic trend has been an outstanding problem for the Russian Federation. Moreover, the second part will reveal why the negative trend is changing in these days. Recently, the credibility of the depiction of some foreign countries in Western news media has been scrutinized more than usual. The conclusion of this analysis leaves the decision makers of the most established media outlets on a precarious spot once more.
After a brief introduction and a cognitive approach on the struggle between the atheistic ideal and the monotheistic ideal in Russia, the latter, which will solely be analyzed with respect to the established religion of Orthodox Christianity and its connection to demographic trends in Russia, the final part will systematically describe what role the Muslim minority and Islam in Russia is playing in this context. It will be argued how, on the one hand, Russia is facing big challenges regarding cultural integration and its fight against the rise of extremism, and why, on the other hand, the monotheistic tradition practiced by this minority is beneficial to a strong Russian nation and appears to be a major part of the solution of Russia's main internal problem. To give the forthcoming arguments validity, we shall first analyze the causes of the population decline in Russia.
2. Russian Extinction: The Side Effects of "Liberation"
After World War II, the Russian Federation had to deal with a loss of lives that corresponds to more than four Holocausts, making a negative trend in demographic change inevitable. With this respect, Russia had already been in a precarious situation because of the infamous Gulag agency, whose administration became a tool during Stalin's rule to repress political adversaries and religious followers. In the decades that followed, this process of population decrease was accelerated by several factors.
The cliché of alcoholism, for which the Russian Federation is known worldwide, is based on a reality that has become a significant factor in the population decline in Russia. According to the most recent studies, more than 50% among the age group 15-54 pass away as a result of alcohol consumption in Russia. When Michael Gorbachev started his anti-alcohol campaign by raising the prices of liquor and restricting its sale, the life expectancy in Russia started to grow. This campaign also implicated a lower crime rate, thus also preventing the population from declining. However, it also implicated even bigger economic challenges.
The negative trend of population decline becomes all the more conspicuous if we keep in mind the issue of sex-trafficking among Russian women. The University of Rhode Island has listed some facts on their Factbook on Global Sexual Exploitation: According to an article in the New York Times by Michael Specter, “Russian and Ukrainian women are the most valuable commodities in the sex trade.” The export of Russian women as sex workers is only another factor that contributes to the population decline. Further facts that are illustrated on this website, give us a clue to what extent this aspect affects the population growth rate: It is said that approximately 500000 women are trafficked into Western Europe annually. Of 155 cases that had been taken from a random sample, 64 were Russians. Proportionally, this would equate 205000 cases of Russian women who are being trafficked into in Western Europe alone.
Another notable statistic is that in 1989, 378 women are said to have entered Japan on Entertainment visas from the Soviet Union. Six years later, when the Soviet Union no longer existed, with 4763 visitors, the number has become more than twelve times as high. To give just one more example that is mentioned in the collection of facts on Russian sex-trafficking: 4500 women and children were detained at the Russian border for trying to illegally leave Russia in 1996. If the number of Russian citizens trying to illegally leave Russia has lessened by now, one must note that since June 2012 the requirements for a visa for Russian citizens has become easier, of course tempting many Russian citizens to find opportunities in other countries. The restrictive conditions to attain a visa that existed before, had sinister side effects, such as the rise of criminal gangs who have been acting as travel agencies to lure its victims into a trap that forces them to pay off their debts by becoming sex workers.
The economic misery and the futile seeming trend in the recent decades have affected the cohesion between Russian men and women. Huffington post refers to the United Nations Demographic Yearbook, according to which Russia has the highest divorce rate in the world, followed by the three former Soviet countries Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova, all of whom are Manaalso listed in three separately implemented studies as having one of the lowest population growth rates in the world, as a higher divorce rate naturally implicates a lower birth rate.
Man mag auch einwenden, dass der Wandel in Bezug auf die Arbeitsteilung zu Gunsten der Frau eine höhere Scheidungsrate impliziert hat, wenn man annimmt, dass die wirtschaftliche Abhängigkeit der Frau in Russland einen Frust unter der russischen Männerwelt verursacht hat, da – trotz der neuen Umstände – die traditonelle russische Sichtweise, wonach Männer sich um die Frauen zu kümmern haben, immer noch gängig ist, doch die Fähigkeit dies zutun, hat sich eben wegen jenen neuen Umständen, die die tradtionelle männliche Funktion als Versorger der Frau überflüssig gemacht haben, als geradezu unmöglich herausgestellt. Der Verlust vieler Männer in den Kriegen hat Russland wohl keine andere Wahl gelassen, als diese Lücke zu füllen, indem eine neue Arbeitsteilung mit zunehmend weiblichen Arbeitnehmern etabliert wurden. Doch nun, da die tradtionelle Rolle der Frau im Haushalt erheblich abgelehnt wird, haben sich die Steuereinnahmen mehr als verdoppelt, was natürlich zunächst als sehr lukrativ für einen Staat erscheint, der sich mit großen wirtschaftlichen Herausforderungen konfrontiert sieht.
Die Probleme wurden allerdings nicht gelöst, sondern lediglich verschoben, da die Bedrohung eines Bevölkerungsrückganges eines der Hauptprobleme in Russland ist, ein Problem, dass die Probleme, die in den westlichen Medien über Russland dargestellt wurden, sehr leicht als kleinere Probleme erscheinen lässt. Kurioserweise sind es aber letztere, denen in der westlichen Presse mehr Aufmerksamkeit geschenkt wird, die das Hauptproblem in Russland verstärken, wie im nächsten Teil dargestellt wird.
3. Western News Coverage on Russia and its Connection to demographic trends in Russia
So far, a number of statistics have been shown. By reviewing four issues that have been favorably reported about in Western news media in the light of Russia's demographic trend, this part will reveal how these media politics perfectly accelerate the process of population decline in Russia.
3.1. In the Name of Democracy
The West's accusation of the current regime in Russia being undemocratic leaves, one might argue, many of its people as cold as the weather in Russia. Though it is disputable how many people in Russia are advocates of their regime, the thousands of people who protested in December, 2011, did not have a significant effect on the nearly 140000000 people who live in Russia. The Putin regime interpreted these protests as an attempt by the U.S. to overthrow the regime by funding and supporting oppositional parties in Russia. Moving pictures of Molotov cocktails in the streets of Moscow, as it had been depicted on Fox News, was revealed by Russia Today as being footage that was actually showing the protests taking place in Greece. This has only reinforced the viewpoint that there are foreign attempts to implement a coup and it has undermined the credibility of Western news media.
If we assume that the current U.S. strategy includes the focus on accelerating the population decline in Russia, to what extent can the call for democracy play a role?
Studies by the World Bank reveal a drastic population decline in the Russian Federation from 1960 to 1999, and a struggle to keep the population growth rate above 0% ever since. While the population growth rate could be held above 1% and appeared to be more constant for nearly twenty years from 1965-1985, within fourteen years the population growth rate unprecedentedly fell by nearly 1% from 1985 to 1999. Interestingly, this coincides with the beginning of the Perestroika period, in which the free market and socialism were introduced in Russia. The collective mentality in Russia, which lacks a significant enthusiasm with regards to democracy, results from the fact that this society lives in a country that has been coined by the dramatic failure of the Perestroika experiment, with one of its main components being the democratization of the system, after which the collapse of the Soviet Union followed, and a crisis, from which Russia has never fully recovered.
Population Growth Rate of Russia since 1960 (World Bank)
If we look at the graphic of the World Bank that shows Russia's population growth rate since 1960, we will also notice a more positive trend since 1999, the year when Vladimir Putin came to power. A more ambitious struggle for population growth (or against population decline) becomes conspicuous. In 2010, Dimitri Medwedew, the president at that time, reacted on the threat of a "Russian Extinction" by doubling the prices of vodka. Much more needs to be done and, but even if we assume that the Russian people are far from being satisfied with many aspects, for which its government is responsible, the same people seem more or less irritated with respect to the interference of the U.S. government. What is so irritating is that on the one hand, the U.S. intends to promote democracy. Nevertheless, the U.S. regime has repeatedly supported individuals and minorities that are not representative for the Russian people.
3.2. Supporting Minorities: The Hype of Homosexuals in Russia
Turning our focus away from the regime and the people as a whole, we now take a look at an issue that concerns a minority group in Russia. While the value of democracy has been stressed in critical statements on Russia numerous times, Western news media yet tends to highlight the rights of individuals or minorities in Russia, such as the gay community. From a normative and moral standpoint, depriving homosexuals of their rights seems disputable to the West. But why have the recent measures of the Russian regime with regards to the rights of homosexuals been an issue in Western media, when there are many other countries, in which the voice of homosexuals needs to be heard much more? Of all these countries, why has Russia been picked?
Bearing in mind the call for a more democratic Russia after a more democratic system had already implicated a stronger population decline and instability before, and recalling all the factors that have prevented the Russian population from growing, one cannot help but think about the fact that pushing forward the rights of homosexuals is only another contributing factor that hinders Russia to achieve its main objective. The already problematic demographic trend will worsen if – of all problems that Russia is currently confronted with - one is to pick the rights of homosexuals in the streets of Moscow, as this is another notable factor that hampers procreation and thus what is urgently needed for the preservation of the Russian people: population growth.
3.3. Let's Start a Riot: Targeting the Church
No issue in Russia has been more eye-catching in the West than the Pussy Riot affair, which has been repeatedly reported about in mainstream news media. The penetrating depiction of the fate of these rebellious girls, as it happens so often, tempted the consumers to forget about the tragic fates of millions of people around the world. So what is this whole Pussy Riot affair about? “This is just PR”, a local stated. But if this is really PR, what benefit do the initiators of this PR have?
The instrumentalization of human rights issues has been one of the most efficient ways to destablize a country, as its visualization evokes emotions within the consumers worldwide
If we keep in mind the orthodox tradition in Russia, we can assume that for the conservatives, the Pussy Riot`s controversial protests against the church is of course a temptation to diversion, instead of conversion, the latter which is – one might argue - most desirable for a population that is decreasing, given that the institution of family is of major significance in Christianity, while the Pussy Riot affair was all about ridiculing the church.
The representatives of this riot had many sympathizers in the West because of a hedonistic call for freedom, with which our societies can identify. Their gimmick and their overall appearance are much easier perceivable than a statistic of a collateral damage of thousands of people.
Interestingly, of all the people in Russia, who have all kinds of grievances, those have been highlighted, who protest against a law that aims at forbidding abortion, as if the Russian Federation would not have enough issues with regards to population growth. We can again see how the choice of issues that are depicted in Western news media perfectly fosters the population decline in Russia, because in this context it has never been mentioned that Russia has the highest abortion rate in the world. To understand the curiosity of highlighting women who protest against a law that forbids abortion in Russia, one statistic should suffice: In 2009, there were 1.3 million cases of abortion, making it to one of the most contributing factors in population decline.
3.4. Russia Gives Away its Children
Just recently, we in the West have learned that President Putin has signed a law that prohibits Americans to adopt Russian children. Putting aside whether this was an impulsive reaction to the U.S. Sanctions, one cannot ignore the fact that giving away children is again far from fostering what is one of Russia's main objectives. At first glance, this appears to be a minor contributor compared to the other aspects, as the U.S. has adopted nearly 60000 children in twenty years, which is not a significant number with respect to population decline. The claim that the U.S. has neglected Russian children is also quite daring. While it is true that 19 cases have been reported, in which an adopted child died in the U.S., one must not forget the nearly 60000 children that have been adopted in the U.S. in the last 20 years, many of whom have been privileged to live on a much higher standard.
Why the emphasis on the new established law in Western news media is noteworthy, however, becomes apparent: The reports about Russia's new law and the stress on how it affects many disabled Russian children, distracts from the very significant point that - except for China and Ethiopia - Russia has been the most generous country when it comes down to giving children free for adoption to other countries. That China is giving children free for adoption the most is not surprising, as it has the biggest population in the world. It is also not surprising that Ethiopia is ranked number two with this respect, as Ethiopia has one of the highest population growth rates in the world. Russia's generosity, on the other hand, is a counterproductive curiosity for solving its main internal problem, as its population has been declining dramatically.
One easily learns about the fact that Russia has many homeless children, but the question how many childless couples Russia has, is raised too seldom. According to Russian sources, 15-20% of the couples in Russia do not have any children. There seem to be two apparent reasons for that: First, many decide not to adopt any children because of the economic challenges. Just recently, a new resolution has been passed that makes it easier for Russian citizens to adopt orphaned children. This is just the most recent step that the Putin regime has taken to make the Russian population grow. The second reason may very well be the inability to make children. Russia's low fertility rate and its exceptional high abortion rate, one might assume, are interconnected, which is in accordance with reports of locals who argue that many women are not able to make any children because of having aborted children before.
After having named and explained several topics in Western news media that are connected with Russia's population decline, one needs to wonder how the problem of population decline can be prevented? In the next part, an observation on cultural and historical aspects in Russia will help us to understand the Russian dilemma, with the main focus being on what has always fostered population growth: religion.
4. The Necessity of Monotheism in Russia
4.1. The Struggle Between Monotheism and Atheism
The establishment of atheism in the Soviet Union has unquestionably affected the reputation of the orthodox tradition, an issue that has been repeatedly reflected in Russian culture, with Michail Bulgakov's work “The Master and Margarita” arguably being the most notable example in literature. Atheism has become a part of Russian culture. Dissociating oneself from it often means to dissociate oneself from his or her identity in Russia, when at the same time holding on to this identity entails that one dissociates oneself from Russia's historical roots of monotheistic tradition, which has been practiced by the forefathers of the recent generations, a point that falls into oblivion not only because of forcefully establishing Atheism, but because of a chain reaction of social and political issues triggered by several wars, leading to a gap between generations that implicated a lack of mutual understanding and cohesion among the family members.
Despite of the contrasting ideals of monotheism and atheism, one must bear in mind that the atheistic parties have also had objectives similar to those of the Worshippers. Thus, alcoholism was not an issue until 1920, as several social groups and parties ambitiously fought for the prohibition of alcohol. This is not only related to the more pieous mentality in the early 20thcentury: Even the atheistic Bolsheviks party put much effort in prohibiting alcohol, while, ironically, it was Stalin, who was raised as a Christian, who aimed at stimulating Russian economy by giving free flow to alcohol, and who is held accountable for the death of many believers. Nevertheless, with respect to demographic trends the significance of monotheism needs to be stressed, as it gives a high value to the family institution, which had always played an essential role in Russia.
While piety among Russians was prevalent till 1920– 90% are said to have belonged to the Christian faith – during Stalin’s rule it was only 30% who were attributed to the faith of Christianity. The anti-religious campaign, which included the banning of religious practice in public, persecution, torture and incarceration in the infamous Gulag Archipelago under Stalin's rule, and the murdering of hundreds of thousands of priests, have not only resulted in a collective fear, but in a collective rejection of the monotheistic ideal among many Russians. How could the Russian people have suffered such a fate, when they worshiped God? Worshiping God actually meant to be persecuted, tortured and killed. To believe meant to suffer. But to believe has not always meant to suffer, and if we look further back at its history, Russia is even one of the best examples: Before the rise of Marxism-Leninism, Russia's population doubled within half a century, going hand in hand with a good economy.
Many people might argue that the prevailing of an atheistic ideal over the monotheistic ideal has been what has triggered a chain reaction of problems that have ultimately led to the fall of the Soviet Union and the current issues. This is misleading. As a matter of fact, many countries, in which Atheism has spread, are welfare states. In many monotheistic countries, however, there is poverty, its people strive for a higher standard of living, and though many among them pray for a higher standard of living, most religious scholars will stress that practicing religion is not first and foremost about welfare, but about endurance with the aim of frugality, and more importantly, not for the sake of a better living in this world, but about the reward in the hereafter, a point that can hardly be grasped by a community that has been coined by Atheism or Agnosticism.
One cannot say that Atheism is the reason for the many tragic events that Russia was confronted with in the following decades. One can say, however, that a forceful imposition of an ideal, the persecution, torturing and murdering of people to establish the respective ideal, and most decisively, the forceful means in order to establish the ideal, by which a whole people has been torn of their historical and traditional roots, can hardly result in a welfare state, unless one is to almost entirely eradicate a people and replace them, as was the case with the Aborigines in Australia or the Indians in the United States of America.
We have witnessed a forceful imposition of all kinds of ideals. In some Islamic states extremist groups prevent little girls from attending classes (some groups, however, do so because schools have been targeted frequently by extremists). Other groups go even further and impose an ideal on a people that contradicts the very foundations of their teachings. We also remember how the ideal of democracy has forcefully been established in Iraq, leaving an enormous number of humans dead and being one of the most unstable countries ever since. We can now see the ideal of democracy being forcefully imposed on Syria, which is not even against democracy, but logically against the force. And this is the whole point: What is seen as the truth or the right thing, be it Atheism, Islam, Christianity, democracy, emancipation etc. can only be a passive potential truth or the potential right thing respectively, while it is only those who try to establish this ideal, the representatives, who ultimately decide, whether they instrumentalize one ideal for their own interests, or for what an ideal is about.
Without a doubt, the forceful and repressive measures that had been taken to submit to Atheism had their effect. In these days, speaking from a utilitarian view, the focus on Russia's monotheistic tradition appears to be beneficial with regards to demographic changes insofar, as this tradition, bearing in mind the high value that is given to the family institution, fosters procreation and thus a positive trend of population growth, which, as has been illustrated above, is one of the most alarming issues for the Russian Federation and explains the most recent steps that President Putin has taken. There is, however, one specific group in Russia, whose population growth is rapidly increasing, and which the Putin regime is paying close attention to. While Russia is seemingly struggling for a collective survival, one component of its people, the Muslim minority, is significantly increasing, and the authorities in Russia are aware of that.
4.2. Islamic Russia: Problem or Solution?
Russia, one might argue, is currently facing an identity crisis. Yet, one must not forget, when one is to consider the atheistic ideal as part of Russia's identity, one restricts Russia's long history to a short period, compared to the monotheistic traditions that have been practiced for nearly a thousand years. Islam, at first glance, seems to be something alien to Russian culture, when, as a matter of fact, it had its beginnings in Russia in the 7th century, even prior to the establishment of Christianity. Because of intelligent media politics, the word “Islam” alone now generates misleading connotations (connotations are often restricted to the militant aspect only, or "Islam" is often restricted to Arab traditions), and by using this word a lot of emphasis is put on a human’s identity, when identity itself is of less significance in religion, as it depends on your social environment and the traditions that are being cultivated in the respective place (which is why it is most likely that you grow up as an atheist in an atheist country, as a Christian in a Christian country, as a Muslim in a Muslim country etc.). Thus "Islam" has become a word that has many meanings to many people, sometimes depending on the connotations that have been generated in the media as in many Western countries, or depending on a scientific approach, as in the branches of linguistics or philosophy ("Islam" literally means "submission"), albeit too seldom its notion depends on what is actually written in the Quran, which constitutes the concept of Islam. In Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan and other Non-Arab countries, the spread of Islam clearly had an influence on the identity of the respective state, but all these states have never become Arab states, nor have all their traditions and their culture vanished.
According to Western sources, the “threat” of Islamization in Russia is so immediate, that by 2050 Russia's Muslim minority could become the majority. This might seem as a utopian view to some people. In an online article, for instance, Anand .K.S.Nair put the effort to analyze the population growth rate of the Muslim minority in detail, noting that “to reach a Muslim majority in 2050, Russia's non-Muslim population should decline to 19 million from the present 129 million figure”, but mistakenly concluding that this is “very much impossible to attain.“ According to the Washington Times, the death rate per year in Russia is approximately 700000, which would by 2050 be 260000000 lives less. If we keep in mind that the population growth rate has been below 0%, these are realistic figures indeed.
The most recent steps of the current regime perfectly reflect how on the one hand the Muslim minority appears to be a problem. On the other hand it appears to be a decisive part of the solution. On the one hand, President Putin resists the spread of Islam, for example by establishing a dress code that will prevent Muslim women from wearing headscarves. On the other hand, public gestures such as paying tribute to an Islamic scholar in Russia signalize the aim of reconciliation. Many mosques have been built. Muslims in Russia have more opportunities than one would first assume. All these conflicting developments reflect the dilemma that the Russian president is facing: Ensuring the supremacy of the orthodox tradition but supporting the necessity of integrating Islam. Fulfilling the demands of the Russian Non-Muslims - the part of the population that is declining - and fulfilling the demands of the Muslim minority - the part of the population that is growing. The focus on the increase of cohesion with the Muslim community stands in contrast with Putin's strong measures against any unrest by those extremist elements that have infiltrated the Muslim community in Russia. Yet, unlike Vladimir the Great, of whom it is said that he rejected Islam because of its prohibition of alcohol, which is one of the main causes for population decline, Putin puts much effort in maintaining and promoting good relations.
Not only is Putin's effort on having good relations with the Muslim community connected with the current demographic trends and the prevention from instability within the country, but good relations with this minority increases the cohesion between Russia and the Islamic world, which is again necessary because of the economic dependence of Russia and several Islamic countries and their common adversaries. They are neighbors, whether they like it or not. Not promoting good relations between Muslims and Non-Muslims in Russia may only encourage a radicalization of the new generation of Muslims in Russia, who, as a result of this exclusion, may very well feel tempted to follow leaders that have caused trouble in Russia, fueling hatred between its Muslims and Non-Muslims, hence causing instability in this country, from which only other institutions would benefit, and other powers would gain influence in this region. Historian and geopolitical analyst William Engdahl, who has been a guest on Russia Today on several occasions, insists that the U.S. is creating chaos in the Islamic world to economically weaken Russia to control Eurasia. The history between Russia and the U.S. will not make this seem far-fetched to the Slavic country. Instead, the suspicion on Western institutions in Russia has implicated vigilance and carefulness in various fields, including news reports on incidents, in which so called "Islamist" elements in Russia have been involved.
In the beginning of January, Spiegel Online reported about "nearly 300 Muslims" who have been arrested in St. Petersburg for planning a terror attack, while Russia today has not mentioned this incident at all. The points mentioned above explain why: Stability and unity among the Russian people - despite of the ever growing diversity - are one of the main objectives for a nation that wants to overcome a century of despair. From the viewpoint of the Russian state, such headlines only influence public opinion in a way that would harm the stability and security in Russia.
It is not only a strategic necessity to prevent other powers from controlling the region that makes an increasing cohesion between Russia and the Islamic world most favorable: Ironically, all that is forbidden according to Islamic teachings is in accordance with the main causes of population decrease, and thus in accordance with the internal main issue with regards to Russia's national security. While Russia has the highest abortion rate in the world, Islamic law forbids abortion, which would implicate more than one million additional lives in Russia annually. Hundreds of thousands of Russians die every year, many of whom die as a result of alcohol, which is again forbidden according to Islamic law. Sex-Trafficking, one can assume, is less likely to occur in countries, where traditional clothing is prevalent. It is one of the many ironies that in the coldest country of the world you witness a lot of exposure, while in the hottest and driest countries you have many people covering most of their body. Some locals argue that the inability of women to make children in Russia at least partially results from this regular exposure of their bodies even in the coldest days to attract men, of whom you have much fewer these days. This is a phenomenon that many people believe to result from the high competition because of the proportionally high number of women in Russia. If all women were to stay in Russia, you would 30-40 million single women that would have no other choice left but to live alone because of the lack of men, to some extent explaining the roots of the problems that lead to the desperate measures of many women. Thus, even if we consider an controversial aspect such as polygyny, we find that this is beneficial to Russia. Though it is not in accordance with the norms of our current Zeitgeist, it has been regarded as a necessity in several countries like Iraq, in which polygyny has become more frequent since the outbreak of the war in 2003.
It has been shown how in all relevant aspects the monotheistic tradition appears to be fruitful for the issue of population decline and for solving the major issues that have accelerated the population decline inside of Russia. The Russian Federation and the Islamic world have common goals, yet the mutual suspicion will not disappear immediately. But the fear of further integrating Islam in Russia is not as big among Russians as the fear of Russia's adversaries that this will unprecedentedly strenghten the ties between the Muslim world and Russia and that the Russian Federation overcome a century of despair.
In sum, we can conclude that the following aspects have contributed to the negative demographic trend in Russia:
The war and the loss of many lives
The high proportion of women and the economic problems that have tempted many women to look for opportunities abroad
Alcoholism and the high death rate in general
Russia has the highest divorce rate in the world
Russia has the highest abortion rate in the world
The Perestroika period, with one of its main components being the democratization
The exceptionally high number of children that have been given free for adoption by Russia
The second part of this analysis highlighted the curious choice of topics on Russia, which Western news media has favorably reported about:
1. The Russian government is undemocratic (e.g. Moscow protest)
2. The Pussy Riot rebel against the church, call for freedom and protest against the prohibition of abortion
3. Homosexuals in Russia are deprived of their rights
4. Russia prohibits Americans to adopt children
Of all the problems, Russia is currently dealing with, we, the Westerners, have learned about the Pussy Riot who provoked an institution that fosters procreation and who protested against a law that may forbid abortion in the future, when Russia has the highest abortion rate in the world, thus being one of the major contributors for the “Russian Extinction”. Of all the problems, Russia is currently dealing with, we, the Westerners, have learned about issues such as the repression of the rights of homosexuals, when the propagation of homosexuality again affects population growth. The West has been highlighting the injustice that minorities in Russia have to face while at the same time the Russian regime is criticized for being undemocratic, which is not surprising, because the very democratic Perestroika period resulted in a national disaster, and the considerable fast population decline in this period may very well be connected to this kind of democracy that had been promoted before. Moreover, the West condemns Russia for its new established law to forbid Americans to adopt children, when it is never mentioned that Russia is one of the most generous country in the world with this regard, this means that even more Russians leave its country, fostering the population decline in Russia once more.
While the issues highlighted in Western news media accelerate the population decline in several aspects that have been listed as contributors to the negative trend, the monotheistic teachings of Christianity and Islam forbid most of the aspects that contribute to population decline. Though Leninism-Marxism has been established in this country, the Russian Federation cannot dissociate itself from its cultural and traditional roots, if it is to persist for long terms. Not only is the cohesion between the Islamic world and Russia necessary because of the geopolitical circumstances and the political course of several Western institutions, but what is forbidden according to Islamic teachings perfectly corresponds to what has harmed the Russian population the most, and hence it offers the most fruitful solutions for Russia’s current issue of population decline.
The hype of extremism within the Islamic community tempts to take aggressive measures with the aim to ensure security. Other states such as Pakistan, for instance, have learned that fighting a "War on Terror" can implicate an uncontrollable spread of extremism all the more. So far, the Russian Federation has not fallen into the same trap. Instead, the measure that needs to be taken is to trace the mechanisms that allow these extremist elements to be formed, to understand the root cause of this misguidance and how this deviation from their own very teachings has come about.
Russia’s good relations with several Islamic states who have suffered under these extremist elements themselves, is useful for understanding these mechanisms, but at the same time a mutual mistrust between the Russian Federation and the Islamic world is undeniable. Under these circumstances, however, the Russian Federation and the Islamic world are looking for new perspectives for the future generations, and there can only be a win-win situation, or a lose-lose situation.
Causes for population decline in Russia
Problems Depicted in the West
Monotheistic View (Christianity or Islam)
Exceptional amount of
Highest Abortion Rate
in the world
"Free Pussy Riot" (protest against abortion law)
Making less children
homosexuals deprived of their rights
procreation is fostered, homosexuality is forbidden
Regime is undemocratic
restricted to what is not forbidden
High Proportion of Women
polygyny not forbidden
High divorce rate
divorce rate not forbidden if financial situation of the woman
Giving away children
Condemning Anti U.S. adoption law