Moscow, 28 August 1997 (RFE/RL) - Interfax news agency, citing Russia's State Statistics Committee, reports that Russia's population fell by several hundred thousands in the first half of this year, to some 147 million.
The report said that in the first half of the year, some 600,000 births and over 1 million deaths were registered.The death rate was highest in Russia's central regions.
The rise in the mortality rate has been attributed largely to the effects of rampant alcoholism and declining standards of health
care during Russia's transition to a market economy.
In May, an official Russian report said the declining population posed a threat to national security. Russia was described as having one of the highest mortality rates, according to the report by the presidential Commission on Women, the Family and Demography.