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Ukraine hollows out

This article was first published by Oriental Review

In the legendary Gogol’s novel “Dead Souls”, a swindler buys on paper slaves who died after the latest census (therefore officially alive) in order to use them as a collateral to take a loan he has no intention of paying back. As we’ll see, Groisman’s government of Ukraine wrote a new version of the novel, this time taking down a whole country in their insane plan.

It’s official: Ukraine doesn’t count its emigration

Ukraine held its last census in 2001. At that time its population accounted 48,457,000 people. The official figures as on Jun 1, 2017 show a demographic disaster: 42,482,000, 6 million or 13% down in 16 years.

Population of Ukraine 1990-2017, in millions. Source: Ukrstat.

Surprisingly, according to the same data, net migration in Ukraine after the first Orange Revolution (2014) turns slightly positive: 

Ukrainian population in 1990-2016 chart. Source: UkrStat. Positive migration balance in 2005-2016 marked in red.

This miracle has a very simple explanation.

The figures of immigration and emigration are normally based on the entries and exits of the national territory. In Ukraine, on the contrary, these statistics are based on the official place of residence.When a citizen moves from one part of Ukraine to another, he has to declare his change of residence for administrative reasons. But those who move out of the country simply have no reason to do so. The falsification of Ukrainian demographic data therefore consists in a simple change of definition, as confirmed in an endnote of the 2017 migration figures. Importantly, this endnote in available in Ukrainian language only:

Translation into English: Information based on the available administrative data on the change of registration of place of residence.

In other words: the falsification of the Ukrainian demographic data is absolutely not a secret. We shall try to measure the magnitude of this falsification, and try to understand who is benefiting from these ‘dead souls’.

Estimates of the real population of Ukraine

Electicity consumption

The first is based on the official electricity consumption figures:

Energy consumption in Ukraine, 2015 compared to 2014 (total, industry, agriculture, transport, public utilities, population). Source: Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry of Ukraine.

Thus, during that year the Ukrainian industries decreased approximately on 18%, while population diminished on 7-8%.

Bread comsumption

A notable Ukrainian analysis shows that the bread consumption had plummetted 55% between 2000 and 2016:

The chart presents statistics of production of different types of breads in 2000-2016 in Ukraine, in tons.
The chart presents statistics of production of different types of breads in 2000-2016 in Ukraine, in tons.

It should be taken into account that in Ukrainian culture the fall of incomes impacts the consumption of bread in a minimal scale or even leads to its increase as the bread often replaces more expensive products like meat and fish. Therefore, 55% decrease in bread production together with lowering incomes evidence that Ukraine has apparently lost half of its population for the last 16 years.

Number of the schoolchildren

During the 1995/1996 school year there were 7.1 million schoolchildren in Ukraine. In the 2015/2016schoolyear it was down to 3,783,150 (official data of the Ministry of Education of Ukraine) or 47% in 20 years.

Ukrainian Institute for the Future

In June 2017 the Ukrainian Institute for the Future released a symptomatic report with the following graphics:

Structure of the Ukrainian population in employment terms.

It shows that there are only 12.3 million officially declared jobs in Ukraine today.

Emigration statistics in neighboring countries since 2014

From the Russian official statistics the net legal migration between the two countries in 2014 and 2015 was 240,501 towards Russia. In 2016194,385 Ukrainians obtained a residence permit and 100,696 obtained Russian citizenship. Another 600,000 Ukrainians living in Russia are waiting a law change to allow them to obtain Russian citizenship. These figures do not include temporary refugees and people with work patents. Also, due to the absence of visa requirements, a significant part of the immigration from Ukanire to Russia is illegal. All this taken into account, we can roughly estimate the emigration from Ukraine to Russia since 2014 to about 2.5 million people.

As to the rest of the world, the main destination is Poland and we can estimate that by the end of 2016 there were 1.5 million Ukrainians working there. The total exodus from Ukraine to abroad since 2014 most likely reached 6-10 million people. However the vast majority of them do not have any permanent residence permits and have to go back to Ukraine regularly.

Emigration between 2004 and 2013

The World Migration Report 2008 claimed that 780,000 Ukrainians worked abroad, compared to 62,000 people according to Ukrainian authorities.

Russian figures indicate that the net migration between Ukraine and Russia was approximately292,000 towards Russia from 2005 until 2013. The equivalent figures for Italy from 2003 until 2013 is 206,320 people towards Italy. There have also been 892,908 Ukrainians who received long term visas (over 3 months) to the EU between 2008 and 2013. In total, we can estimate that the falsification of demographic figures before 2014 was approximately one million people who were already living abroad before the 2014 coup. If we add the loss of population in the Donbass to DNR and LNR at 3.5 millions, the permanent Kiev-controlled population now should be around 42,5-8-3,5-1=30 million people.

Why do they falsify?

Alexandr Klymenko

Aleksandr Klymenko, former Minister of Taxes and Duties of Ukraine, offers four interesting explanations for this falsifications:

Trick the IMF and the EU

The international donors seem to use the official falsified figures in their predictive models to determine if Ukraine will be able to pay back. It is obvious that Ukraine will default (it has already defaulted on a 3 billion dollar debt to Russia) and that no analyst could take the current Ukrainian government seriously in this matter, but maybe all this make-believe theater is simply very convenient to transfer Western taxpayer money into the right pockets: several Ukrainian oligarchs and Western companies benefit from the chaos.

Steal money from the Ukrainian people

Oleksandr Klymenko suggests that the falsification could help some officials become richer, through the energy officially used for the millions of dead souls. As Ukrainian apartments do not usually have individual electric or gas counters, the energy is counted for the whole building, then paid by each tenant based on how many people officially live in each apartment. One way to steal money would be to make people who live a large part of the year abroad as much as if they were always in Ukraine, then pocket the difference.

Steal the elections

Until 2014, mass emigration was mostly observed in the pro-NATO Western part of the country. Letting relatives vote for two million people living mostly or permanently abroady greatly helped parties opposed to good relations with Russia.

Minimise the casualties of the war

Officially, Kiev recognizes only 2700 soldiers killed in the undeclared war against Donbass, despite catastrophic losses during several combat phses, such as the Ilovaisk mousetrap. Hiding the real losses of the war helps the government to remain in power: it hides their incompetence, reduces protests against the war, and lets them blame all of Ukraine’s problems on the war (which is imputed on the mighty invisible Russian army).

Hide Ukraine’s weakness compared to its neighbours

The economic and demographic collapse of Ukraine puts it in an extremely weak position compared to all of its neighbors: Ukraine is now in all aspects much weaker than the smaller Romania, Slovakia and Hungary. The main problem however may come from Poland, which has not forgotten that almost 100,000 km² of the West of Ukraine used to belong to Poland until 1939. The relations between the two countries are already getting sour because of the glorification of Ukrainian nationalists and Ukrainian Waffen-SS volunteers, who massacred not only Jews but also many Poles. There is no risk of war between the two countries in a foreseeable future, but Poland, America’s most servile vassal in Eastern Europe, knows how easy it can be to invade another country in the name of democracy and Western values and get away with it. This may be far-fetched, but more simply if millions of West-Ukrainians live in Poland and obtain Polish citizenship, Ukraine might very well become Poland’s vassal state. Hiding the real demographic disaster might prevent Polish politicians from even planning such a take-over.

Minimise the importance of emigrants for the economy

Remittances sent by migrant workers to their families in Ukraine represents sums larger than foreign direct investments (over $6 bln compared to less than $3.5 bln in 2016). They are the reason why the value of the hryvna has not completely collapsed despite collapsing exports. Remittances contribute to around 8% of the Ukrainian economy. Denying the mass emigration is a way of exagerrating the strength of the Ukrainian economy, as these remittances are due to the weakness of Ukraine’s economy and not a measure of its strength.

Hide the government project of population reduction

Having its Soviet-built industry, completely destroyed, today’s Ukraine simply cannot afford to socially support 30 million people and latently encourages emigration elsewhere. Oleksandr Klymenko agrees and adds that the plan of the government is to reduce the population of Ukraine to 20 millions as quickly as possible: old people will die faster from the reform of pensions and the reform of health services, and on the other hand fertility will decrease due to the end of free medicine for expecting mothers and the end of benefits paid to parents of young children. The falsification of demographic figures hide the fact that the “operation 20 millions” is carrying out successfully.

Conclusion

Although the falsification of Ukraine’s demographic data is not a secret, as it is clearly mentioned on Ukrstat’s website, the validity of the official figures is hardly ever discussed. We showed here an exclusive method of estimating the population of Ukraine which confirms that the demographic collapse of Ukraine is much worse than officially acknowledged. As in Gogol’s novel, the trafficking of dead souls probably helps a few people getting richer, but beyond this, the dissimulation of mass emigration hides the criminal incompetence of the Ukrainian government and the magnitude of the humanitarian crisis they initiated. Many elements point to a worsening of the demographic situation in the foreseeable future, and the very existence of Ukraine might be threatened in the next few decades by the consequence of the suicidal politics of the current government, if it is not soon replaced by competent people determined to pull Ukraine out of the disaster by ending the war, stop the all-out confrontation with Russia and definitely cancel the politics designed to serve the financial and strategic interests of the Western elite instead of the interests of the Ukrainian people.

Photo taken in the Ukrainian town of Drogobych, 2016

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