There are some links that mention this, for example:

Ukranian Euromaidan Press claimed in 2017:

There are now well over one million prostitutes in the Russian Federation, a figure that is higher than the combined total of doctors, farmers, and firemen, official statistics show (snob.ru/selected/entry/128051). Meanwhile according to the leader of the Silver Rose, the unregistered association of Russian sex workers, the number of sex workers in Russia exceeds three million (iz.ru/news/586344).

Meduza claimed in 2019:

According to different estimates, there are between one and three million sex workers in Russia today.

Newsweek reported in 2016:

Official statistics estimate that there are 1 million sex workers in Russia, but Zazhmilin [deputy head of the campaign group Vice Squad] says the figure exceeded 3 million a long time ago.

I'm skeptical about these claims: If true, Russia would have around 208 sex workers per 10,000 population.

For reference, Thailand, considered a sex tourism destination has varied estimates of sex worker population from 43,000-2,800,000, but 200,000 seems to the upper end of the more reliable estimates. That would make a ratio of around 27 sex workers per 10,000 population.

  • 3
    I made an edit, but one difficulty I had was that you referenced the Thai statistics, which included an unofficial upper end claim of 2.8m, and it isn't clear why that claim was discarded in computing Thailand's prevalence, but not the equally unofficial upper end claim of 3m with Russia.
    – Oddthinking
    Aug 10, 2023 at 3:10
  • I could imagine that at least part of the differences come out of different definitions of a sex worker ranging from this being their primary source of income to 'have you ever recieved compensation for sex?'
    – quarague
    Aug 10, 2023 at 8:15
  • 3
    As far as I can tell, the "official figure of 1 million" is from the statement by the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Igor Zubov. Note the difference in wording, though: here it's "persons involved in prostitution" - which, I would assume, include not just the workers, but also (presumably more numerous) clients. Aug 10, 2023 at 8:27
  • 4
    A good answer to this would need to begin with a working definition of "sex work". It's a broad term that covers a lot of activities which would not usually be considered "prostitution", and with some grey areas - is somebody still a "sex worker" if it's an occasional sideline rather than their main occupation, or if they're doing it for non-monetary compensation? Any meaningful numbers, let alone a meaningful comparison between countries, needs to start from a clear definition of what is and isn't counted. Aug 13, 2023 at 5:37
  • It would mean the average Russian, man, woman, child, any ages, pays for about 1/50th of the income of a sex worker. That’s a lot of money.
    – gnasher729
    Aug 13, 2023 at 18:39


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