MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia has registered the first population increase since the chaotic years which followed the fall of the Soviet Union, bucking a long-term decline that has dampened economic growth projections, officials said on Tuesday.Russia’s population increased by between 15,000 and 25,000 to more than 141.9 million in 2009, the first annual increase since 1995, Health Minister Tatyana Golikova told a meeting in the Kremlin with President Dmitry Medvedev.
The rise was helped by a 4 percent decline in mortality rates and an influx of immigrants, mostly from the former republics of the former Soviet Union, Golikova said.
“The difference between birth rates and mortality rates will be covered by a rise in migration,” Golikova said in a televised Kremlin meeting, adding that Russia was trying to cut the number of abortions.
“Our abortion rates are comparable to birth rates,” she said. Russia registered 1.7 million births in 2009 and 1.2 million abortions.
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