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10 February 2012

Statements of the obvious #1: by Mr Rogozin

Deputy Prime Minister, Dmitri Rogozin was quoted in today’s Moscow Times as saying that Russia’s “goal” should be to have a population of 500 million, apparently to counter the threat from China.
“140 million—that’s too little,” he said. “The solution is either to complain that we have those Chinese or… to have children. Without children Russia will not have a population of 500 million, which we absolutely need.”
Leaving aside the question of why Russia needs 500 million people when other countries near China do not feel a similar need—Japan has roughly the same population as Russia’s; Mongolia has less than 3 million people; and Bhutan has fewer inhabitants than Ufa—the language issue is this: to say “without children Russia will not have a population of 500 million” is a statement of the obvious, which is pretty boring, in any language. It is of course silly as well, in that without children Russia will obviously, within the space of one lifetime, have no people at all—at least no Russians, only immigrants.
     It is considered rude in polite society to make statements of the obvious since they make the speaker appear to be talking down to the listener, treating him or her as ignorant or a fool. Perhaps the subtlety of Mr Rogozin’s remarks was lost in translation. I cannot comment on that, not having seen the original. But, I do wonder what his “goal” was in speaking that way. Was it absolutely necessary?