Speaking as part of a meeting with schoolchildren on Wednesday, Putin said that the country's bloody history had hindered the growth of its population. "Here, in our nation, over the course of the 20th century, the Russian state disintegrated twice." He pointed to "the revolution of 1917, when the Empire ceased to exist" as the beginning of the turmoil. "And then the collapse of the Soviet Union happened."
"If they hadn't happened, we would have had a different country. Some experts believe that our population would now be about 500 million people," he said.
Russia is currently home to around 150 million people, only a marginal increase from the 125 million covered by the country's first general census in 1897. By contrast, in the space of only 100 years, the US has gone from a nation of only around 100 million to more than three times that.
Moscow has long been concerned about the declining number of people living in the country. In January, official figures showed that there were half a million fewer Russians as a result of Covid-19 deaths, falling birth rates and a drop in migrants crossing the border during the pandemic.
However, in March, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova announced that the decline might soon be coming to an end, with more people having children. "If, in 2019, the decline in the rate of births was around 8%, then in 2020, that figure is already down to 3%," she revealed.
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