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A young mother and child during Russia's summer solstice, Ivan Kupala Day, a pagan fertility rite tthat is now part of the Orthodox calendar (file photo) (ITAR-TASS) August 21, 2006 -- The population of Russia fell by 348,700 in the first half of the year to 142.4 million, Russia's Federal Statistics Service reported today.


The number of deaths exceeded births by 415,300.


In the same period last year, deaths exceeded births by 462,300.


(ITAR-TASS)

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