With the background of discussions about raising the retirement age, Russia continues to die out. While the total population of the planet is growing, Russia is among the top ten most countries with the highest mortality. And while the dashing 90s have ended a long time ago, and the government keeps regularly report about the improvements of demographics, the real situation remains catastrophic. Even the government-controlled Rosstat, known for its manipulation of statistics, is forced to note a significant decrease in the population of the Russian Federation.

During the period from January to May this year, the natural decline of the population in Russia reached 147.2 thousand people. The natural decline of the population in 2017 was 135,818. Rosstat claims that the number of births in the Russian Federation during the January-May 2018 amounted to 651.1 thousand people. The amount of deaths in January-May amounted to 798.3 thousand people.

Thus, it turns out that during the five months of 2018, the country's population decreased by 147 thousand people, which is 0.1% of total residents of Russia.

Nevertheless, worth noting that Rosstat is somewhat disingenuous in these calculations, by not taking into consideration those Russians who have left the country forever, albeit their number is growing every year. And what is important, those most likely to leave are the young and able-bodied, economically active share of the population.

This year, the UN has published an expert report, according to which by 2050 the population of the Russian Federation will fall to 132.7 million people. In the same time, it has also stressed that last year the birth rate in Russia fell by 10.7%. However, 130 million people by 2050 is quite an optimistic prediction. Some assumptions are harsher, with the population of Russia reduced to just 70 million people, according to the more negative scenario.

Of course, the space freed by those extinct and deceased will be occupied or even seized by others. There are enough candidates for that, for example, Russia's neighbor, China...

As it was assumed earlier, the government postponed the most unpopular reforms until after the elections. Now, said reforms begin to be implemented. The greatest displeasure was caused by the government's plan to raise the retirement age. People began to realize that most of them are going to work hard till their death. Provided there will be any work for them at their venerable age. And those able to make it to their long-awaited pension will likely live a beggarly miserable life.

According to a poll conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation, 80% of Russian citizens are currently unhappy with the plans to increase the retirement age. Half of them even said that raising the retirement age is unacceptable as a principle. 39% of those who oppose the reform, argued that "if we raise the retirement age, many will die before the retirement, with their pension savings lost."

The degree of the protest mood is now at the highest for the last 8 years, and the percent of those ready to support Vladimir Putin in the elections fell below 50%, which was absolutely unrealistic during the presidential elections on March 18.

The government's attempts to illuminate the benefits of a later retirement, as much as Putin's seeming non-involvement in the reform appear to have no effect. According to the POF poll, after the announcement of the reform, Putin lost 14% of support. 56% of respondents admitted that their attitude towards the authorities was heavily influenced by the plans to raise the retirement age.

There is also the possibility that the Russian government is playing a tricky game with the pension. They may have knowingly voiced a more rigid version of the pension reform, in order to give a little "discount" later. For example, Vladimir Putin might give the instructions to reduce the maximum age for a couple of years, saving a bit of his rating.

In any case, the protest moods of the citizens would have made more sense six months ago, but now the presidential elections have already passed and during the next 6 years, Putin will keep the rule over the country. The people's anger is unlikely to hurt the authority of the government. 6 years later things will be completely different, and it's dangerous to even talk about the unconstitutional path of change.

Recent VTsIOM survey reports that the number of Russian citizens aged 18 to 24 who express their desire to move abroad, has increased compared to previous years and is now 31%. This indicates that the young people are the ones who wish to leave the country most. This value has reached its maximum in the recent 5 years. In 2014-2017, it swayed from 21 to 26%.

At the same time, the share of Russians who voiced their desire to leave for permanent residence abroad among all age groups, in general, is only 10%. Perhaps the percent of potential refugees could be higher, but few Russians actually travel abroad, which makes it difficult for them to compare the realities of Russian and foreign life. During the last 3 years, 7% of respondents did not leave Russia at all. Most of them, likely, for financial reasons.  

Germany is leading the list of countries where the Russians want to settle. 16% of respondents expressed their desire to move there. Countries that come next are the USA (7%), Spain (6%), Canada (5%) and Italy (4%). Another 4% said that they would like to move to one of the European countries, but have not yet decided which one.

As follows from the study of the international company PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Russia is among the five states where commercial organizations are most likely to suffer from economic crimes. As PwC representatives explained to reporters from RBC, the study understands crimes as actions that are treated as crimes by the organizations themselves, not by law enforcement agencies. They are not necessarily followed by official criminal investigations.

The anti-rating also includes France, Kenya, and South Africa. Russia is on the fourth spot, sharing it with Uganda.

In 2016-2017, the number of organizations facing economic crimes has significantly increased in Russia. Compared with the previous study taken two years ago, the number of respondents reporting facts of crime raised from 48 to 66%.

PwC data (not part of the study) reports, that two years ago Russia was ahead of seven countries in the rating. However, the significant increase in the number of fraud cases for the past period was noted not only in Russia but throughout the world. The share of such signals at the global level has increased from 36 to 49%.

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It is surprising to face the immense greed of Russian bribe-takers once again. This time, the one who got caught is Grigory Sablikov, the head of the North-West Department of Rostekhnadzor. During the search, the police found a huge amount of money, comparable to an annual budget of an entire city. Sablikov is charged with misappropriation in an especially large amount – up to five billion rubles of both money and gifts. The Dzerzhinsky District Court of St. Petersburg has already decided to appoint a measure of restraint. As it is usual in cases of major bribery and embezzlement, the accused are waiting for the court's decision not in the detention cell, but under house arrest.  The term of house arrest is subsequently deducted from the total term of the verdict.

Attention! More than 4 billions stolen, and yet house arrest!?

The scope of Sablikov's appetite is impressive. According to Ren-TV, the investigation has information, that a certain "particularly major rostekhpovelitel" earned a fortune using his powerful patronage and intercession, and clearly lived beyond his means. Sablikov's official annual earnings were the modest 1.5 million rubles, while his wife earned slightly more than two million.  

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The protest actions dedicated to the inauguration of Vladimir Putin happened on May 5 in Moscow and several other Russian cities. The protests were organized by opposition politician Alexei Navalny. Tverskaya Street and, in particular, the Pushkin Square became the traditional place for the event in the Russian capital.

The largest protests took place in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Chelyabinsk, where hundreds of participants were detained by the police. Other notable cities were: Astrakhan, Belgorod, Blagoveshchensk, Vladimir, Voronezh, Ekaterinburg, Kaluga, Kemerovo, Krasnodar, Krasnoyarsk, Kurgan, Novokuznetsk, Penza, Samara, Tver, Togliatti, Tomsk, Yakutsk.

The attempt of Russian citizens to express their civil position this Saturday also resulted in rough detentions of more than 1500 people, many of whom were then quickly punished by terms and fines. During the detentions, people were being beaten, and among the detainees, there were underage.

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This Friday in Yekaterinburg, the representatives of the General Prosecutor's Office, government officials and members of the business community, held a meeting dedicated to the protection of investors' rights. During his visit to Yekaterinburg, Prosecutor General Yury Chaika said that he considers the possible amnesty for businessmen who had to leave the country, to be a "good decision". "In general, of course, this is the right approach, we expect that taking into account changes in the legislation, this mechanism will work”, said the Prosecutor General of Russia.

The reason for this reaction of the General Prosecutor is the request of Ombudsman Boris Titov to assist in resolving issues related to the criminal cases of 16 entrepreneurs who are currently abroad. These individuals voiced their desire to return to Russia, if not for the criminal persecutions against them. "Charges in cases of these businessmen stem from purely economic disputes...", said Boris Titov, asking for guarantees of freedom for the returnees.

It is noteworthy, that Yury Chaika did not rule out the possibility that the pressure put on these entrepreneurs by the law enforcement agencies became the main reason for their escape. "If any violations committed by law enforcement agencies are found, we will resolve these issues”. said the Prosecutor General.

All these statements concern me as one of the persons on the "Titov's list", therefore I'd like to speak out on this matter below.

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