June 27th 2009

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Articles from this issue:

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Peter Costello calls it a day

EDITORIAL: New South Wales puts Australian firms first

VICTORIA: The threats to Victoria's electricity and water

GENERAL MOTORS: Restructured GM won't thrive without new mindset

UNITED STATES I: Obama's celebrity-style media spectacle

UNITED STATES II: Cairo speech impressed Western media, not Islamic world

IRAN: US conciliatory approach to Tehran backfires

ASIA/PACIFIC REGION: East Timor consolidates stable democratic government

UNITED STATES: Husband and wife spied for communist Cuba

SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY: How science can diminish humanity

EUTHANASIA: The perils of euthanasia "with safeguards"

MEN AND IDEAS: Bob Santamaria's role in Australia's culture wars

OPINION: The Japanese threat facing Australia in 1942

Failure of stimulus packages (letter)

Russia's population crisis (letter)

IPCC's political agenda (letter)

MEDIA: ABC Chaser's war on common decency

CINEMA: Hollywood morality for an audience of fools - State of Play

BOOKS: SHAKESPEARE'S SHATTERED YOUTH: Laming or Elixir? by Lucy Sullivan

BOOKS: CROSSING HITLER: The Man Who Put the Nazis on the Witness Stand, by Benjamin C. Hett

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Russia's population crisis (letter)

by John Maguire

News Weekly, June 27, 2009

The catastrophic decline of Russia's population, as described in Joseph Poprzeczny's article (News Weekly, May 16), was evident when my wife Patricia and I visited Russia last July.

Our daughter Lucy and her husband both work as lawyers in Moscow. Lucy works for an interesting firm which was started by a young New Zealander, Steven Jennings, just after the fall of Soviet communism. He and another person were charged with introducing the voucher system whereby capitalism was introduced into Russia.

Coupled with the fact that Russian authorities had no idea of the value of their state instrumentalities, and with the manipulation of the vouchers, most of the wealth finished up in the hands of the oligarchs. The oligarchs were not only unscrupulous, but their financial status before this time was very meagre. The toughest of them who escaped jail or assassination became fabulously wealthy.

In our travels through St Petersburg and Moscow, Patricia and I were struck by the absence of babies and young children. Those we did see were angelic.

When in Russia, I read a number of articles which were very open about the atrocities and massacres that occurred under communism. There were also a number of articles reflecting concern at the falling population.

One outstanding one was by a Russian academic. He warned that if Russia's present population of 148 million drops by 800,000 per annum, the projected population by 2050 will be only 100 million, consisting mainly of old people.

He theorised that, as a result, Siberia would be lost to China and that the southern areas, because of their high Moslem population, would hive off from the central government.

He concluded that in that situation the remaining Russia would feel compelled to turn to Europe. This, incidentally, was Gorbachev's dream.

John Maguire,
Grose Vale, NSW

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