The Russian national session “The Main Results of the Social Development of the Russian Federation in 2001 and the Goals for 2002” is taking place in Moscow. The data, which were presented at the session by the Russian government, testified to the fact that there are still very many social problems. Valentina Matviyenko, vice premier of the Russian government, advised that the death rate was 1.7 times as high as the birth rate in the year 2001. Everyone knows that the Russian population is growing old very fast. The same problem can be found in other European countries and Japan, but the reasons for this problem are different. A lot of families choose not to have children for one reason: it is very expensive. Raising even one child costs a lot, and Russian families are not sure if they can guarantee a good life to their children. The young people of Europe and Japan are more interested in their careers, and they spend the majority of their time on this issue. As a result, they do not have the time to raise children.
One cannot say that the Russian government is not worried about the critical situation in our country. There should be certain benefits guaranteed to families that have little ones, but the amount of funding for such help is very low, and people have to go through a lot of red tape in order to get it. Therefore, lot of people simply decide not to have kids, and even if they do, they try to solve their problems with their own efforts.
Valentina Matviyenko also said that the number of the HIV-infected people was growing in Russia. This index increased from 18 thousand to 85.5 thousand people during the period of 1999-2001, and this is only the official information. These people have to face a great deal of problems. Medical treatment is very expensive, and not everyone can afford it. Moreover, an infected person has a lot of problems in his or her everyday life: problems at work and conflicts with neighbors; the list goes on and on. The AIDS precaution measures in Russia are totally unsatisfactory. There are just several organizations that deal with it, basically at the expense of foreign money.
The situation is the same when it comes to drug addicts. As Valentina Matviyenko mentioned, 90% of the HIV-infected people used drugs by means of intravenous injections. At the same time, there were 270 thousand drug addicts officially registered in Russia in 2001, and only every fifth patient is under medical treatment. Matviyenko also said that the non-medical use of medicines had taken threatening forms.
Speaking about the "healthy" nation, it should be said that only nine percent of Russians, including five percent of women. Valentina Matviyenko said that, while the West is running away from alcohol and smoking, the Russian stadiums and sports fields are turning into market places. The vice premier said that the sports issue is going to be considered by the government. Let’s hope for the best.
In addition, the president of the Russian Olympic Committee, Leonid Tyagachev, has found the financial sources to fund Russian sports programs. He said during his speech at the session of the Federation Council on March 11 that the Russian Olympic Committee should have its own hotels; the sports lottery should be retrieved, he even mentioned casinos; and income can be earbed from selling vodka and cigarettes. So as it seems, one part of Russia will smoke and drink vodka, whereas the other part will be healthy. Let’s hope that the government will not consider Tyagachev’s offer seriously.
The list of problems in the social field is surely includes more that the ones mentioned above. There is also unemployment, homeless children, alcoholism, and the low level of the population’s income. Why is the Russian government paying attention to the problems only now? And only after President Putin said something about them. There should be something done before it’s too late, otherwise, there will be nobody left in Russia after 20 years who should be taken care of.
Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov