Putin calls for plan to lure Russians living abroad back home

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MOSCOW, February 7 (RIA Novosti) - Russia is set to take another step to arrest its alarming demographic situation with the establishment of a task force that will aim to persuade Russians living overseas to return to their homeland.

According to an article posted on the Kremlin Web site on Tuesday, Vladimir Putin has issued a decree to set up an inter-departmental working group to draft a state program of assisting Russians living abroad to resettle in Russia.

Presidential aide Viktor Ivanov has been appointed the head of the 34-member group. Head of the Kremlin administration's department for citizens' constitutional rights Dmitry Zhuikov, presidential envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Kamil Iskhakov and head of the government office Sergei Naryshkin have been appointed deputy chairmen.

The Federal Migration Service has been tasked with providing organizational support for the group, which should submit a draft program by June 1.

Russia is both aging and declining. According to UN forecasts, the population will almost halve in the 21st century. It will fall from 144 million to 101.5 million people in the first 50 years before reaching a low of 79.5 million in the second half of the century.

At the same time, the Russian economy is rapidly developing amid a favourable situation on world commodity markets. Russia's Stabilisation Fund, established to accumulate surplus revenues from high world oil prices, currently holds more than $50 billion.

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