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Moscow, 3 March 2005 -- A Russian official today said the population of Russia declined by 9.5 million people in the past decade despite a recent rise in birthrates.

Vladimir Kulakov, a member of a presidential advisory panel on women, family, and demographic issues, told a news conference that birthrates had risen in the past five years to an average of 1.5 million births annually in Russia.

That was still up to 800,000 births short of the average rate the country needed to maintain its current population.

The United Nations estimated this year that Russia's overall population was around 143.2 million people.

Kulakov attributed the fall in the birthrate from Soviet times to a variety of factors, including changing social values that encourage women to wait longer before having children to insufficient government incentives for families and health problems affecting women's reproductive health.

(AFP)
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