Medvedev alarmed over falling population in Russia's east
President Dmitry Medvedev on Friday called the shrinking population in Russia's far east a "dangerous trend" as he visited to promote Russia's economic role in the Asia-Pacific region.
"In the last 20 years, since 1991, the population of the region has fallen by 25 percent. And, without a doubt, this is the most worrying and dangerous trend," Medvedev said in comments released by the Kremlin.
The demographic crisis has exacerbated the region's economic problems after its industrial output was hit by the global slow down, Medvedev added, speaking in the city of Khabarovsk, around 8,500 kilometres (5,300 miles) from Moscow.
"Due to the crisis, all the socio-economic indicators in the Far East region have worsened. Industrial output has fallen. Sadly, one in five residents lives below the poverty line," he said.
Medvedev's comments come despite an influx of foreign migrants to the Russian Far East, particularly from China, amid flourishing trade with the energy-hungry giant and other regional neighbours.
Trade with China grew 50 percent in the first quarter of 2010 on the same period last year, while it rose 80 percent with South Korea, Medvedev said, calling for Russia to bolster cooperation with its trading partners.
"Integration with countries in the Asia-Pacific region -- I think everyone understands -- is a very serious resource to boost the economy of the Far East and all of Russia," the Kremlin leader said.
"By the end of this year the government must submit for approval a plan of action to strengthen Russia's position in the region," he said.
© 2010 AFP