• $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • other
  • use Paypal

CALLING ALL COUNTERPUNCHERS! CounterPunch’s website is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. We are supported almost entirely by the subscribers to the print edition of our magazine and by one-out-of-every-1000 readers of the site. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners to the “new” Cuba. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads or click bait. Unlike many other indy media sites, we don’t shake you down for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it. So over the next few weeks we are requesting your financial support. Keep CounterPunch free, fierce and independent by donating today by credit card through our secure online server, via PayPal or by calling 1(800) 840-3683. Note: This annoying box will disappear once we reach our fund drive goal. Thank you for your support!


The Challenges Confronting Russia


Despite being potentially one of the richest countries in the world, Russia still confronts several challenges such as youth emigration, and demographic and public health issues that hinder the country’s development.

The lack of opportunities and growing economic difficulties entice many young people to emigrate, particularly to Europe and to the United States. Those who emigrate are those who want to broaden their horizons and have better opportunities, and who see them now curtailed by the prevailing climate of corruption in the country.

It is estimated that between 2008 and 2011 more than 1,250,000 Russians emigrated, an even greater number than those who emigrated after the collapse of the Soviet Union. A survey conducted in 2010, for example, found that 21 percent of Russians want to emigrate, compared with 5 percent who wanted to do so in 1991, the year the Soviet Union collapsed.

During the past two decades, an aging demographic turn and its effect on Russian society has been the focus of debate. There is now universal agreement that unless Russia resolves this serious problem, its status as a world power will be seriously compromised. Russia has recently experienced a phenomenon similar to that of several developed countries, a rapidly aging population with steadily declining birth rates. However, while people living in most industrialized countries have increased life expectancy, in Russia this phenomenon is hindered by the relatively low health status of its population.

These factors, in addition to restrictive immigration policies and low fertility rates, have led Russia to a constant process of depopulation. It is estimated that between 1993 and 2010 the population in Russia was reduced from approximately 149 to 142 million people. If current trends continue, Russia’s population in 2050 will be between 100-107 million, which would be a demographic disaster for such a big country.

Serious health problems among Russians are the result of high rates of smoking and alcohol consumption, as well as high numbers of people living with HIV/AIDS. It is now estimated that more than two million men are HIV positive, and the epidemic doesn’t show any signs of abating. 80 percent of those infected with HIV are under 30, and the epidemic is closely associated with high levels of intravenous drug use.

According to the World Health Organization, heart disease, aggravated by alcohol and tobacco, is responsible for over 1.2 million deaths each year. According to a study, the increase in alcohol consumption since 1987 has caused more than three million deaths nationwide. It is estimated that one is eight deaths can be attributed to alcohol-related diseases.

In Russia, words and symbols are more important than reality. Putin, either as President or as Prime Minister has repeatedly tried to use symbols to rally support for his policies. One of these symbols has been the idea of Russia as an isolated fortress, surrounded by powerful enemies, particularly the United States. However, despite the use of these symbols, there is a great deal of antagonism against Putin, particularly among young people and intellectuals of all ages. Many people believe that although there has always been corruption in Russia, it has never been as great as now. This is compounded by Putin’s maneuvers to stay in power indefinitely, an issue that greatly concerns many Russians.

Since taking power again, Putin has exacerbated the negative aspects of his regime: consolidation of power, strict control of the media and the economy, electoral manipulation, censorship and propaganda in the state-control media, and persecution of political opponents and of industrialists and merchants who oppose his regime.

At the same time, however, the public seems less willing to endure government abuse, and protests against the current regime are constant, despite the huge fines set by the government for any kind of popular demonstration. And there is no doubt that Putin will face increasing criticism for his iron-hand polices. Given these circumstances, it is impossible to predict with certainty the direction events will take. It is clear, however, that Russian leaders face a wide and complex range of problems. How they respond to these challenges will determine the kind of country that Russia will become.

Cesar Chelala, M.D., Ph.D., is an international public health consultant and the author of “Environmental Impact on Child Health,” a publication of the Pan American Health Organization.

Dr. Cesar Chelala is an international public health consultant. He recently received the Cedar of Lebanon Gold Medal from the House of Lebanon in Tucuman, Argentina.

October 13, 2015
Dave Lindorff
US Dispatched a Murderous AC-130 Airborne Gunship to Attack a Hospital
Steve Martinot
The Politics of Prisons and Prisoners
Heidi Morrison
A Portrait of an Immigrant Named Millie, Drawn From Her Funeral
Andre Vltchek
Horrid Carcass of Indonesia – 50 Years After the Coup
Jeremy Malcolm
All Rights Reserved: Now We Know the Final TTP is Everything We Feared
Omar Kassem
Do You Want to See Turkey Falling Apart as Well?
Paul Craig Roberts
Recognizing Neocon Failure: Has Obama Finally Come to His Senses?
Theodoros Papadopoulos
The EU Has Lost the Plot in Ukraine
Roger Annis
Ukraine Threatened by Government Negligence Over Polio
Matthew Stanton
The Vapid Vote
Mel Gurtov
Manipulating Reality: Facebook is Listening to You
Louisa Willcox
Tracking the Grizzly’s Number One Killer
Binoy Kampmark
Assange and the Village Gossipers
Robert Koehler
Why Bombing a Hospital Is a War Crime
Jon Flanders
Railroad Workers Fight Proposed Job Consolidation
Mark Hand
Passion and Pain: Photographer Trains Human Trafficking Survivors
October 12, 2015
Ralph Nader
Imperial Failure: Lessons From Afghanistan and Iraq
Ishmael Reed
Want a Renewal? Rid Your City of Blacks
Thomas S. Harrington
US Caught Faking It in Syria
Victor Grossman
Scenes From a Wonderful Parade Against the TPP
Luciana Bohne
Where Are You When We Need You, Jean-Paul Sartre?
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
The US Way of War: From Columbus to Kunduz
Paul Craig Roberts
A Decisive Shift in the Balance of Power
Justus Links
Turkey’s Tiananmen in Context
Ray McGovern
Faux Neutrality: How CNN Shapes Political Debate
William Manson
Things R Us: How Venture Capitalists Feed the Fetishism of Technology
Norman Pollack
The “Apologies”: A Note On Usage
Steve Horn
Cops Called on Reporter Who Asked About Climate at Oil & Gas Convention
Javan Briggs
The Browning of California: the Water is Ours!
Dave Randle
The BBC and the Licence Fee
Andrew Stewart
Elvis Has Left the Building: a Reply to Slavoj Žižek
Nicolás Cabrera
Resisting Columbus: the Movement to Change October 12th Holiday is Rooted in History
Weekend Edition
October 9-11, 2015
David Price – Roberto J. González
The Use and Abuse of Culture (and Children): The Human Terrain System’s Rationalization of Pedophilia in Afghanistan
Mike Whitney
Putin’s “Endgame” in Syria
Jason Hribal
The Tilikum Effect and the Downfall of SeaWorld
Gary Leupp
The Six Most Disastrous Interventions of the 21st Century
Andrew Levine
In Syria, Obama is Playing a Losing Game
Louis Proyect
The End of Academic Freedom in America: the Case of Steven Salaita
Rob Urie
Democrats, Neoliberalism and the TPP
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
The Bully Recalibrates: U.S. Signals Policy Shift in Syria
Brian Cloughley
Hospital Slaughter and the US/NATO Propaganda Machine
Paul Street
Hope in Abandonment: Cuba, Detroit, and Earth-Scientific Socialism
John Walsh
For Vietnam: Artemisinin From China, Agent Orange From America
Hadi Kobaysi
How The US Uses (Takfiri) Extremists
John Wight
No Moral High Ground for the West on Syria