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Putin calls for action to avert population crisis

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"This demographic problem ... is one of the most serious problems Russia has faced in the last 15 years," Putin said, adding that it was an "awful problem."

TOMSK, West Siberia, April 26 (RIA Novosti) - President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that Russia faces serious demographic problems, and that action is needed to avert an all-out disaster.

Speaking at a meeting of regional leaders in the West Siberian oil city of Tomsk, Putin said the country's economic productivity and even state sovereignty could be threatened if the situation does not improve.

"This demographic problem ... is one of the most serious problems Russia has faced in the last 15 years," Putin said, adding that it was an "awful problem."

Siberia is currently seeing a population drain due to low standards of living in the region, Putin said, despite the region's "huge potential."

"The apocalyptic scenario does not have to come true," he said.

Putin also praised the contributions made by several regional leaders to deal with current problems.

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