UN Warns of Demographic Crisis

Russia is doing too little to reverse a critical decline in its population driven by increasing alcohol abuse, poor diet and social change, a UN report said Monday.

Karl Kulessa, UN Population Fund chief in Russia, said in presenting the report that the population could fall from 142 million to 100 million in 40 to 50 years.

President Vladimir Putin has made fighting a falling population a priority.

The UN report, "Demographic Policy in Russia: From Reflection to Action," said preliminary data showed the birth rate rose 8.3 percent in 2007 in Russia and the mortality rate decreased by 4 percent; but the overall downward trend remained.

"The authors of this publication do not share the optimism of government officials who claim that Russia will succeed in halting the population decline by 2015 and increase the population to 145 million by 2025," the UN report said.