161,170. That’s how many passports Russian authorities issued to foreigners between January and March in 2020. It’s more than twice the number that the country issued during the same period in 2019. In April 2020, President Vladimir Putin also signed a dual-citizenship law that estimates suggest will attract up to 10 million new citizens. Why? According to the most pessimistic scenarios, Russia’s population might drop by 12 million in the next 15 years and Putin has made reversing the country’s demographic crisis a major priority.
The project helped our English speaking audience to better understand the demography crisis that Russia is dealing with. When Russian President Vladimir Putin assumed office, Russia was losing around half a million people each year. While the country has been trying to boost fertility rates and implement special programs for families, perhaps the most successful strategy has been attracting migrants, whose arrival helps Russia to compensate population losses. According to some studies, Eastern European countries are among those with the least-accepting attitudes towards migrants, yet inviting people from other countries seems to be working for Russia. The microsite reached more than 100k people on our Facebook page and it was later translated to two other languages (Kazakh and Tajik) so it reached an even bigger audience. It also inspired other language services of the RFE/RL to create similar projects.
We used MS Excel to clean and sort large data sets, and to prepare basic visualizations so we could see the trends. Later, Adobe Illustrator was used to producing the data visualizations, HTML and CSS for designing and developing the microsite, and After Effects for creating the introductory illustration.
What was the hardest part of this project?
The hardest part of this project was verifying the data from Russian government agencies and comparing them to other sources.
What can others learn from this project?
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is a large organization, but these projects are usually researched, written, visualized, designed, and produced by one or two people (excluding text editors). No matter how big or small your team is, you can produce longer projects that combine data visualizations, illustrations, and text.