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    RUSSIAN POPULATION DECREASES BY 1.8 MLN COMPARED TO 1989

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    MOSCOW, February 12 (RIA Novosti) - The number of people living in Russia is 145.2 million; it has reduced by 1.8 million in comparison with 1989. Russian State Statistics Committee (Goskomstat) head Vladimir Sokolin made public these data received during the All-Russian census in fall 2002, speaking in RIA Novosti on Thursday.

    The number of urban dwellers saw the main reduction - by 1.6 million, while the number of rural dwellers decreased by 0.2 million.

    The reduction of the population occurred mainly due to natural reasons. Migrants from the CIS and Baltic countries have been the only source of increase since 1992. As of today, Russia has practically exhausted its migration capabilities, Sokolin said.

    In his words, because immigration laws were toughened, the inflow of migrants reduced last year by 45%. It's a very serious problem for Russia, and it will become more and more urgent with each year, the committee believes. "If the tendency towards immigration reduction preserves, the number of those who work in the country by 2016 will be 10 million fewer than today," Sokolin forecasts.

    Speaking about the census again, he said its results testify to "a practical termination" in Russia of the urbanization process, as it happened in most developed countries. The ratio of urban and rural dwellers has not changed since 1989. It is still 73% against 27%.

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