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CIA: Russia's population statistics worse than official version

Crowd of Russians, One Waving Russian FlagThe CIA [https://www.cia.gov/library/
publications/ the-world-factbook/geos/rs.html
has published data on Russia's population, life expectancy, birth and death rates -- all of which are significantly worse that those presented by Russia's statistical agency.

According to the CIA, Russia's population is diminishing at a rate 15 times faster that the country's official data suggest. As of July 2011, The World Factbook puts the Russian population as 138.7 million people, while Russia's official statistics agency, Rosstat, estimates Russia's population at 4.2 million people higher. The CIA does not disclose where they obtained these figures from and it is possible that they could be using undisclosed Russian sources or its own demographic models. But it is clear that American spy agency does not trust Rosstat's data, Novaya Gazeta wrote.

The different demographic statistics could be explained by the importance Prime Minister Vladimir Putin attaches to it.

"Demographics are a sign of society's welfare and the state's effectiveness," he said at United Russia conference in September. "We have made the demographic crisis recede, the crisis that was threatening Russia's existence... We need to consolidate these positive demographic trends to provide for a gradual growth of the population."

Population decline more severe

Official statistics show that Russia's depopulation almost stopped in recent years. Results of 2010 All-Russia Census estimate Russia's population at 142.9 million (at the start of 2011). It had fallen by just 48,300 people in 2010, or 0.03 percent, Rosstat suggests.

American estimates are 15 times worse; their data shows a 0.47 percent decrease in population in 2010, which puts Russia among the leaders in population decline ­ 222nd place out of 230 countries. But with Rosstat's data, Russia is 23 places higher.

Psychological barrier

The 140-million-people mark has turned into a kind of a psychological barrier for officials, who want to avoid crossing it at all costs, the paper reported.

In the government's Strategy 2020 policy document, the first draft stated that "in keeping with the current negative tendencies, by 2020 the population could fall to 138 million people." But six months later the wording was changed to "the depopulation that began in 1990s to early 2000s could lead to the decline of the total population to 140 million people by 2020," NG reported.

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