Russia Close-up: Tver Region begins to battle population decline

Russia's Tver Region is located between the country's two largest cities - Moscow and St. Petersburg, but like in many other areas in Russia, its population is declining due to fewer births, high death rates and low life expectancy.

In the mid-1920s, there were more than two and a half million inhabitants in the Tver Region and now there are about a million fewer.

In recent years, a lack of work opportunities has seen people leaving the area for the bright lights of neighbouring Moscow and St. Petersburg - a scenario which officials are working hard to reverse.

"We're doing everything we can to bring back or keep the youth in the region. We've boosted economic growth and helped open up a lot of new enterprises. What young people need is exciting and well-paid jobs. On the one hand, we're setting up new production facilities to provide employment, on the other, we're improving conditions for a normal life by developing medicine, entertainment and education," said Olga Pishchulina, Deputy Governor of Tver Region.

Although the social infrastructure in urban areas may be improving, life is still tough for those living out in the country. Some communities have almost ceased to exist because people simply couldn't stay there and support themselves.

But there are signs that the region is changing for the better. Companies, keen to take advantage of Tver's strategic location, have opened up large businesses and investment is rising by 30 per cent per annum. And there are signs that population numbers may be starting to climb.

Difficult times are still likely to be ahead. Mortality rates among people of working age remain high and there is an increasingly elderly population. But authorities hope that more jobs, more opportunities and a better standard of living, will make sure that the future of the region is in safe hands. ( RT )

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