IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


26th July, 2022 International Relations

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Context: As the Russian invasion of Ukraine entered its fifth month, President Vladimir Putin last week invoked the decades-old conspiracy theory of the “golden billion” that is allegedly out to dominate the world and impose its will over unwilling nations.


  • The “golden billion”, Putin said in Moscow, “divides the peoples into those of first- or second-rate, and therefore it is racist and neo-colonial in its essence.
  • The theory of the so-called golden billion (‘zolotoi milliard’ in Russian) has been around for 30 years, and accuses wealthy Western elites of having amassed wealth by exploiting the rest of the world, and of seeking to perpetuate their total control over the planet’s limited resources.
  • “Golden billion” was coined as the USSR stood at the cusp of collapse, by a Russian named Anatoly K Tsikunov, in a book titled ‘The Plot of World Government: Russia and the golden billion’, which he wrote in 1990 under the pseudonym A. Kuzmich.
  • The book described a doomsday scenario in which powerful Western nations deeply fearful of global overpopulation, ecological change, and the lack of sufficient resources, would seek to extend control over the rest of the world, and ensure that it is habitable to only a billion of their own people.
  • Russia in particular, the theory had it, would be at the receiving end of this Western-led plan, because its natural resources and large land mass would be necessary for the survival of this billion-strong elite, The Washington Post said in an article on Putin’s speech and the golden billion theory.
  • Golden billion had come to connote in practical terms the population of the high-income Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries that have higher levels of per capita consumption than the developing world.