Russia (illustrative)
Russia (illustrative)Flash 90
Even before the pandemic, Gorokhovets, a quaint town with a medieval church five hours' drive from Moscow, was dying. There is a sector that is growing: the opening of its third funeral home proves that. It is a story in the Telegraph. “People either die or leave”, said Yulia Balandina, the director of one of the funeral homes.

Russia's population has declined by 600,000 in the past year, dropping to 146 million, according to official statistics, the most dramatic net decline in the past 15 years. This month, Russia also recorded its first decline in life expectancy since 2003. These figures represent a huge problem for President Vladimir Putin, who said he was "obsessed" with the prospect of a dying Russia and made the ongoing demographic crisis one of the priorities of his two decades in power.

By the mid-2000s, the downward trend had reversed, in the wake of an improving economic situation and government efforts to encourage births.

The state statistical agency Rosstat has provided three possible scenarios for the next 15 years. The most pessimistic one predicts a collapse to 134 million, a fate that could await the country unless major changes are on the way. Last year Putin announced plans to offer parents extra state funding for their first child, which had previously only been offered to families with at least two children.

In January alone, Russia lost 113,116 people, statistics agency Rosstat said. By 2013, the number of births had exceeded deaths for the first time since 1992. The population continued to grow in 2014 and 2015, due to the annexation of Crimea, which has a population of two million, but has since started to decline again. "We are alarmed by the negative demographic forecasts," Putin said. "The fate of Russia, its historical perspective depends on how many of us there will be". Archpriest Dmitry Smirnov, an official of the Russian Orthodox Church, said that "there will be no more Russians in 2050".

The fear of an Islamic overtaking is grafted onto all of this. Henry Kissinger explained it well: “Russia feels strategically threatened by a demographic nightmare on the border with China; from an ideological nightmare in the form of radical Islam along the southern border; to the west from Europe. Moscow considers it a historical challenge ”.

A report by the Jamestown Foundation, entitled "How Islam Will Change Russia", explained what will happen: "Russia has about 15 million people of Muslim origin, 11 percent of the population. Moscow has the largest Muslim community in Europe. Given the demographic changes, Muslims will represent one third (the downward estimate) and half (the upward estimate) of the Russian population by 2050 ”.

"About 30 percent of the Russian population will practice Islam within the next 15 years," Russian Grand Mufti Ravil Gainutdin also predicted. And Pravda itself, in the English section, published an article entitled "Will Islam be the first Russian religion in 2050?".

Russia was called the heir of Christian Orthodox Constantinople after its fall into Turkish hands in 1493.. The corrosive and lethal effects of communism on its moral and social tissue can plunge this "Third Rome" into the arms of Islam.

Giulio Meotti is, an Italian journalist with Il Foglio, writes a twice-weekly column for Arutz Sheva. He is the author, in English, of the book "A New Shoah", that researched the personal stories of Israel's terror victims, published by Encounter and of "J'Accuse: the Vatican Against Israel" published by Mantua Books, in addition to books in Italian. His writing has appeared in publications, such as the Wall Street Journal, Gatestone, Frontpage and Commentary.