Putin vows to reverse Russian population decline

Putin reeled off a list of social policies that he said could reverse a demographic decline.

Moscow: Prime Minister Vladimir Putin today
vowed to reverse Russia`s demographic decline and boost its
population to 154 million, as he ramped up his re-election
campaign in the face of protests.

In a new campaign article addressing his core
constituency including employees of state companies and
blue-collar workers, Putin also promised salary hikes to
teachers and doctors and pledged to create a more just state.

Putin reeled off a list of social policies that he said
could reverse a demographic decline and boost Russia`s current
population that has now dwindled to nearly 143 million and
which he said risked falling to just 107 million.

"In a global sense we are facing the risk of turning into
an `empty space` whose fate will not be decided by us," Putin
said in an article published on his campaign website.

"If we manage to formulate and implement an effective
complex people-saving strategy, Russia`s population will go up
to 154 million," he said.

By contrast, he said, if the authorities do nothing to
combat the demographic crisis, the country`s population would
fall to 107 million by 2050.

"The historic price of the choice between action and
inaction is nearly 50 million human lives over the next 40
years," he said in the piece, his fifth campaign article since

After serving two consecutive presidential terms between
2000 and 2008 and a term as prime minister, Putin is seeking a
third term in the March 4 presidential election.
He is however facing the worst legitimacy crisis of his
12-year rule, with tens of thousands taking to the streets in
protests since December.

Russia`s future president will have to tackle an acute
demographic crisis exacerbated by unhealthy lifestyles,
blatant disregard for safety protocols and traffic accidents
which all contribute to high death rates.

Upon his widely expected re-election, Putin will have to
push through long-delayed pension, utilities and tax reforms
whose costs will be partly shouldered by the country`s
quickly-ageing population.


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