The disjunction between the first two stories in today’s Johnson’s Russia List could not be more striking:
November 12, 2008
Russia Has Bright Future in Poll
The majority of its citizens (82%) expect Russia to join the ranks of the world’s ten leading countries in the next 15-20 years, according to a new poll by the All-Russia Center for the Study of Public Opinion. Thirty-seven percent of respondents say Russia should “regain the superpower status the USSR had,” compared to 34 percent in 2003. “Lagging behind the advanced countries in economic development” is seen by 44 percent of respondents as the main obstacle to that Russia’s progress in the world.
Confidence is mounting. In 2003, 35 percent of respondents thought Russia would become one of the most “economically developed and politically influential” of the world’s countries. Now 45 percent say so, although that figure was 2 percent greater at the end of last year. General director of the All-Russia Center for the Study of Public Opinion Valery Fedorov attributed the slight reversal of opinion to the complex economic this year.
And now, for something completely different:
Russia population to decrease by 34 mln by 2050- UN forecast
UNITED NATIONS, November 13 (Itar-Tass) – Russia’s population by 2050 will decrease by 34 million, according to a forecast made by representatives of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) who on Wednesday presented here a regular report State of World Population 2008.
At present 141.8 million people live in Russia and by 2050 this figure will be 107.8 million people, according to the UNFPA report.
There are both objective and subjective issues here. First, how is it objectively possible for a country with a rapidly shrinking population to assume world leadership, and to become one of the world’s most “economically developed and politically influential” countries? Second, subjectively, how can large numbers of people believe that a dying country can achieve such status?
The answer to the first question is pretty obvious: there’s no way. The answer to the second is by no means obvious. It suggests a disconnect from reality, whether driven by fantasy or denial or something else I know not. Or maybe it reflects genius, as it is sometimes said that the sign of true genius is the ability to hold simultaneously two mutually contradictory thoughts in mind.