President Vladimir Putin lamented the high rate of traffic accidents in Russia, saying Tuesday that the loss of life is a threat to the country's economic potential. Most Russian roads are in a notoriously poor state because maintenance and construction fail to keep pace with the explosion in commercial and commuter traffic in recent years. Last year, nearly 35,000 people died in vehicle crashes, and another 250,000 were injured, he said.
"The largest part of the population dying are the able-bodied. These are absolutely irrecoverable losses for us," Putin said in televised comments.
"In effect, it undermines the potential of the Russian society, its demographic reserve," he was quoted by ITAR-Tass as saying.
The high rate of alcohol consumption also contributes to the problem, with many accidents blamed on motorists driving while drunk. A.M.
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