COVID-19 crisis: Demographer exposes the lies of Russian statistics

Before we start let’s take a look on the statistics provided by Wroldometer.info about coronavirus pandemic in different countries of the world.

Those are stats of 24/11/2020. We don’t get focused on the date. This site and my articles are about the nature of the government in Russia as an example of autocracy. Take a look here. You see that Russia has more total cases than Spain, UK, Italy, Argentina or Mexico. But less total deaths than those countries. What is the phenomenon or Russian statistics? I will write detailed article about it. But here I want to tell you about one person who exposes the lies of Rosstat. Our source today is media of Saint-Petersburg “Doctor Piter”


“Excess mortality from April to November will be about 250 thousand, 80% of them are COVID-19,” said independent demographer Alexey Raksha. This is several times higher than government data.

Demographer Alexey Raksha worked as an adviser at Rosstat until June of this year, but was forced to leave the civil service after he publicly questioned the reliability of the published data on mortality from COVID-19. For example, the demographer said that Moscow does not report almost 70% of deaths associated with coronavirus, and the regions – almost 80%. “The situation outside of Moscow has changed little since then,” says Alexei Raksha. In an interview, he spoke about what is hidden behind the official coronavirus statistics.

-Alexey, why is the excess mortality rate so important?

-The most important indicator of the final impact of the virus on people is precisely excess mortality. This is the most honest, most correct and simple indicator that has so far been impossible to forge and falsify. This is just the number of deaths without specifying the causes of death, that is, even somehow freely interpreting these reasons will not work.

-What do you mean when you say that a humanitarian catastrophe is possible in Russia according to the Latin American scenario?

-The countries of Latin America are considered the most affected by the pandemic today – in Peru and Ecuador there are twice as many deaths than in previous years. In Mexico – one and a half times. This, of course, is already a completely terrible scenario, but Russia may become one of the world leaders in excess mortality, which is growing all over the world, but here it is faster. We have now overtaken the USA, Italy, France, Belgium and possibly the UK. Spain is “ahead”, in which there was a very strong first wave. In the worst case, we will also overtake it in excess mortality.

-And what are our numbers? Is it true that we are talking about 500 thousand “excess” deaths?

-No, this is quite a terrible figure. According to the most optimistic forecasts, by the end of the year we will have 250–260 thousand excess deaths, but I think that we should expect about 300 thousand. The number of deaths in October 2020 in Russia is likely to grow by 48 thousand, or 31%, compared to October 2019. In total, for April – October, excess mortality may be about 165 thousand people. In November, the situation is likely to be even worse, and we will exceed the threshold of 220 thousand excess deaths. November in general can become a record of all months of the year for the number of deaths in the entire history since the famine of 1947. Thus, this year we can reach a natural decline (the difference between the number of births and deaths) of about 600-650 thousand and an excess mortality of about 250-330 thousand for the entire year compared to the last year. It will turn out to be a very sad year in terms of demographics.

-According to the St. Petersburg Health Committee, the overall mortality rate in our city has grown by 16%. What is the excess mortality rate in St. Petersburg?

-In April – September of this year, according to Rosstat, 35,622 people died in St. Petersburg (in April – September 2019 – 28,798). This is 6,824 people more than in the same months of 2019. 6,341 citizens died with COVID-19, 5,050 from the virus itself and complications, 4,352 from the virus itself, 3,535 of them with confirmed PCR tests (and only 2,582 according to the government website). According to the registry office, another 1,402 more people died in October.

-Since spring, Petersburg has been holding the lead in the number of deaths from coronavirus per 100 thousand people. There are 81 of them in the Northern capital, and 60 in Moscow.

-Petersburg most honestly shows the number of COVID-19 deaths. Of course, not 100%, but in comparison with the average Russian lie, we are better.

-By the way, how to explain the statistical phenomenon, when for some time the number of recovered in St. Petersburg was consistently half the number of cases?

-Only by the fact that at least one of these data series did not correspond to reality, but most likely both.

-When did the rise in deaths begin?

-Across the country, a sharp increase was recorded in May, but mainly due to the two capitals, their regions and the republics of the Eastern Caucasus. This month became the record for the number of deaths in Moscow in the entire history of observations since the early 1990s. But the population of Moscow is growing, and as a result, so many deaths are recorded. In St. Petersburg in May 2020, 7,126 people died. Barely held the record in May 1993, when 7,395 people died.

-The concept of “excess mortality” is best applied to a certain short period of time – days, months. If we are talking about an annual indicator, then it is best to compare the figures not with previous years, but with some kind of trend.

-Comparing 2020 to past years, what were the peak periods for excess mortality?

-This is the 90s. The beginning of the 2000s. If we talk about annual intervals, then we must look at the age structure of the population and average life expectancy. Today people in Russia live longer. The average life expectancy has been growing since 2006, when the Unified State Automated Information System was introduced for alcohol and there were interruptions in the availability of alcohol in retail, as a result, that year in Russia, 137 thousand people died less than in 2005. Today in Russia “from vodka” (drunken traffic accident, suicides, murders committed while intoxicated, from chronic diseases caused by alcoholism, and so on) – according to my estimate, about 300 thousand die annually, while before, about half a million died. People began to take more care of their health, eat right, consume less alcohol, and the number of criminal deaths decreased. This is a global trend in which our country is also participating. This year, life expectancy is at risk of falling by about two years, that is, from 73.34 years to 71-71.8. In the 1990s and early 2000s, this figure was around 65 years old.

I believe that it is quite correct to compare the deaths of 2020 only with the previous year 2019, because the number of deaths in Russia has been declining in recent years. That is, in 2020, most likely, the mortality rate would be even lower if it were not for the coronavirus epidemic.

-What is the picture of excess mortality in the country as a whole? Where more people die, where less?

-Officially, according to Rosstat, the excess mortality, from April to September inclusive, amounted to 116,280 people – an increase of 13.2%. The leaders are Chechnya (plus 1 709 deaths, an increase of 53.9%), Ingushetia, Dagestan. They did not believe in COVID-19 for a long time, did nothing, until people around began to die from the virus. Next comes Moscow – 15,026 deaths, an increase of 25.7%. High excess mortality in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous region – overcrowding in confined spaces, shift work, and this is the result – plus 25.2%. High mortality rate in Chuvashia. The Volga Federal District is generally considered the most affected by the COVID-19 after the North Caucasus and Central. Now everything is bad in Siberia: in the Altai Territory, the number of deaths in October increased by 62% compared to October last year, in the Omsk Region by 55%, that is, more than one and a half times. It is bad both in the Urals and in the Volga region – in the Orenburg region the increase is 54%, in the Saratov region – 42%, in the Perm region – 41%. Until recently, everything was fine in Buryatia, but now I look at the daily figures of the registry office and see that their number of deaths is actively growing. By the way, the Buryat registry office is the only one in the country that publishes daily statistics of births and deaths, the information is updated every day. Last but not least, the virus came to the Far East, here people are just beginning to die, and the main losses are yet to come.

-What is the share of coronavirus deaths in this volume of excess mortality?

-According to Rospotrebnadzor – the site “Stopkoronavirus.rf” – 20%. According to Rosstat, about 50%. Well, in general, in different countries from 55% to 110%, an average of 80%. Therefore, our official data should be multiplied by 3-4.

-Where does this understatement come from?

-Almost half of deaths due to COVID-19 are transferred in documents to other diseases at the first stage – in hospitals. And the second filter is the Stopkoronavirus.rf website. As a result, we see these scanty figures: for example, in the Kirov or Lipetsk region, or in Bashkortostan, for many (up to 21) days, only one person dies a day, which looks like complete nonsense. Rosstat stopped publishing information on other causes of death in April. The data on how many people died from COVID-19 and pneumonia are sent daily by Rosstat to the government in secret. Already more than a dozen registry offices in the country stopped publishing mortality statistics as soon as the situation began to worsen. The final data on the number of deaths in Russia will be ready by June 15, 2021: after the end of the year, Rosstat will re-sort the data received from the USR registry office by the date of death, and not by the date of registration of death certificates in the registry office. This information can be obtained only upon request, it is not publicly available.”

I will make another article about games with numbers of our government. The last thing I’d like to draw your attention to is that our statistics services use such terms as “deaths with coronavirus” and “deaths because of COVID-19” because it is our first step to understand their tools of falsification in the next article. Take care!

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