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Kremlin Floats Plan to Create Millions of New Citizens

Citizenship offer aimed at inducing Russian speakers from the neighborhood to move to the motherland.

15 March 2019

The Russian government has launched its latest program to combat the effects of population loss.


The Kremlin hopes that 5 to 10 million people will take advantage of its plan to grant citizenship to Russian speakers in neighboring countries, The Moscow Times reports, citing Kommersant. The program is set to run for six years.


Russia’s population fell by 93,500, or 0.06 percent, to 146.8 million in 2018, according to the Russian statistics office, marking the first population decline in 10 years. Last year was the first since 2008 that migration has not offset natural population losses, according to the Moscow paper.


Now, the Kremlin is looking to countries with large Russian-speaking populations from Ukraine and Moldova to Kazakhstan, to act as “donor countries” for new Russian citizens.


Russian President Vladimir Putin holding a baby. Image via


Sources told Kommersant that bills are in the works to expedite immigration and citizenship processes.


The declining population can be attributed in part to the falling number of women of childbearing age, a problem that originated in the economically tumultuous 1990s. During this time, women put off having children, Anatoly Vishnevsky, director of the Institute for Demography at the Higher School of Economics, told RFE in 2017.


The plan to attract migrants is the latest in a series of measures aimed at halting population decline. In 2017, President Vladimir Putin announced a three-year, 500 billion ruble ($8.6 billion) subsidy program to encourage larger families, according to Bloomberg.



  • Consequences of the declining population include a declining workforce. In 2017, Economy Minister Maksim Oreshkin called Russia's demographic situation "one of the most difficult in the world," saying that 800,000 working-age people would be lost annually over the next few years, according to RFE.


  • To counteract the impending labor shortage, legislation taking effect this year has increased the retirement age for men from 60 to 65, and from 55 to 60 for women, according to Xinhua. The proposal, initially setting the new retirement age at 63 for women, aroused widespread public alarm last year and was eventually watered down.


  • And to attract more workers to the Russian Far East, where the population has dropped by a quarter in the past 30 years, the government last year promised 1 million rubles ($17,500) to workers who moved there for a minimum of two years. Another program offers free land to ethnic Russians who settle in the region.
Compiled by Eliza Siegel 
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We would like to invite you to meet Kathryn Thier, a recognized expert and instructor of Solutions Journalism from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication.


Join us to learn more about the connections between investigative reporting and Solutions Journalism and discover the impact that bringing the “whole” story has on communities. Kathryn’s keynote speech will be followed by a panel discussion on bringing the solutions perspective into reporting practices with Nikita Poljakov, deputy editor in chief of the business daily Hospodářské noviny. Nikita is also head of the project “Nejsi sám” (You are not alone), which uses the solutions approach to tackle the issue of male suicide. The main program will be followed by an informal wine reception. 


The event will take place on Monday, 25 March at 5 p.m. in the Hollar building of the Charles University Faculty of Social Sciences (Smetanovo nábřeží 6, Praha 1). The event will be in English. 


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Moldovan diaries

The Moldovan Diaries is a multimedia, interactive examination of the country's ethnic, religious, social and political identities by Paolo Paterlini and Cesare De Giglio.

This innovative approach to story telling gives voice to ordinary people and takes the reader on the virtual trip across Moldovan rural and urban landscapes. 

It is a unique and intimate map of the nation.


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