Topic: Russia's Villages, and Their Culture, Are 'Melting Away'
With its winding dirt lanes framed by lilacs, quaint wooden houses and graceful onion-domed church, the tiny farming hamlet of Baruta was once a postcard of Russian bucolic bliss.
No longer. More people lie in the tightly packed church cemetery than inhabit the village. Agriculture is slowly withering, too.
With Russia's natural population growth entering an extended period of decline, villages like Baruta are disappearing from across the country’s continental expanse.
"We have not had a wedding or a baptism for quite some time — we mostly have funerals," said a resident, Alexander Fyodorov, 59, one of just 17 men left in what was a thriving collective of some 500 farmers.
President Vladimir Putin frequently cites hardy population growth as a pillar of restoring Russia's place atop the global order. There is a pronounced gap, however, between the positive terms in which Putin and his advisers habitually discuss demographic trends and the reality of the numbers.
Russians are dying faster than they are being born, demographers said. Given the general hostility toward immigration, the question is to what degree the population of 146 million, including annexed Crimea, might shrink.
The number of deaths exceeded the number of births in 2016 by a few thousand, and the prognosis for the years ahead is poor. From 2013-2015, extremely modest natural growth peaked in 2015 with just 32,038 more births than deaths.
"The statistics and the propaganda are very different things," said Natalya V. Zubarevich, an expert in social and political geography at Moscow State University.
In terms of population loss, Pskov, which borders Latvia and parts of Estonia, is among the worst hit regions in Russia. The population peaked at around 1.8 million in the 1920s, said Andrei Manakov, a demographer at Pskov State University. It is down to 642,000, and projected to drop to about 513,000 by 2033.
Researchers estimate that out of 8,300 area villages in 1910, 2,000 no longer have permanent residents.
Under the most optimistic projections by demographers, Russia’s population by 2050 will stay the same, about 146 million, if immigration from Central Asia — which has also been dropping — balances out low birthrates. Less optimistic figures put the population around 130 million by 2050, and the most pessimistic say fewer than 100 million.
人口學者最樂觀的預測是，如果來自中亞的移民（也正在逐漸減少）能彌補俄國的低出生率，2050年俄國人口會跟現在一樣，大約1億4600萬。較不樂觀的數據是2050年人口約為1億3000萬，最悲觀的是不到1億。Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/318780/web/
Topic: Russia reaches out to OPEC as Riyadh opens oil taps
The COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak in China and its rapid spread has taken its toll on the global economy, driving down demand for oil in the first weeks of 2020.
In response, in the scheduled meeting on March 5-6 in Vienna, Saudi Arabia and other OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) states called for OPEC+ to a make drastic cut of 1.5 million barrels per day to reduce supply by a total of 3.6 million barells per day — insisting on a non-OPEC agreement. However, Russia rejected the plan. When the OPEC+ talks collapsed, the OPEC oil cartel scrapped all output limits. A dispute then broke out.
Russian oil companies had opposed such cuts, fearing loss of market share and of competitiveness against US shale production. They had previously in December agreed on a milder production cut of 500,000 barrels in 2020, and Russia wanted this to continue.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude exporter, responded on March 8 by announcing unilateral price cuts with its biggest price cut in 20 years in a bid to win market share. This prompted the oil price to plummet and fueled huge drops on stock markets the following day.
By March 9, oil had fallen to as low as US$31 from about US$66 at the end of 2019 as Riyadh said it would lift production to record highs, their biggest one-day move since the 1991 Gulf War. On March 10, Saudi oil giant Aramco announced a plan to massively increase oil output despite falling demand during the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.
“At first glance, this looks like a battle between Russia and Saudi Arabia over oil policy,” said Chris Weafer of Macro Advisory consultancy. “But the context of the relentless rise in US oil production over the past 10 years is also an important factor.”
Both Russia and major OPEC producers have been “openly annoyed” with US producers’ refusal to participate in past production cuts, he added.
On Monday and Thursday last week, the crash in oil prices and fears over the global economic impact of the virus outbreak prompted a meltdown on stock markets.
Source article: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/lang/archives/2020/03/17/2003732810
Topic: About Russia: ’They just want to take a selfie’： how TV show changed Chernobyl tourism
The hit TV series "Chernobyl" has attracted a new generation of tourists to the nuclear disaster zone but guides say that many are more interested in taking selfies than learning about the accident.
Tourists now are often on the lookout for locations featured in the acclaimed HBO drama and can be surprised to discover that certain sites were fictional.
The abandoned site had already become a "dark tourism" destination, even before the eponymous TV show started broadcasting.
Some Ukrainian travel agencies have further adapted their tours to take in locations from the "Chernobyl" series and offer special trips, such as kayaking in rivers around the exclusion zone.
In July, new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a decree that aims to develop the site further as a tourist attraction. In 2018, 72,000 people visited Chernobyl and it is expected to jump to 100,000 in 2019.
Topic: Russia joins race to make quantum dreams a reality 俄羅斯加入量子戰局
Russia has launched an effort to build a working quantum computer, in a bid to catch up to other countries in the race for practical quantum technologies.
The government will inject around 50 billion roubles （US$790 million）over the next 5 years into basic and applied quantum research carried out at leading Russian laboratories, the country’s deputy prime minister, Maxim Akimov, announced on 6 December at a technology forum in Sochi.
Quantum technology already receives massive governmental support in a number of countries. The European Union’s €1-billion （US$1.1-billion） Quantum Flagship programme, first announced in 2016. Germany announced a €650-million national quantum initiative in August 2019. The Chinese and US governments are also spending billions on quantum science and technology programmes.
量子技術已獲得多國政府大力支持。歐盟2016年率先宣布一項10億歐元（11億美元）的量子旗艦計畫。德國2019年8月發表一項6.5億歐元的國家量子計畫。中國和美國政府同樣也在量子科學和技術項目投入數十億經費。Source article: https://features.ltn.com.tw/english/article/paper/1342518; https://features.ltn.com.tw/english/article/paper/1344790