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Word Count: 335
According to Forbes magazine Russia homes the 30 of one of the worlds richest people Top of the list is the owner of the Chelsea football club Roman Abramovich whose personal fortune is estimated to be close to 15bn This is an unimaginable sum of money for most Russians whose average salary is 250 a month Russian academics warn the gulf between the rich and the poor is now so great it could destabilise society And while Russias billionaires get younger and richer the countrys overall population is declining at an ever faster rate The latest Forbes survey of Russian billionaires shows a small decline in their number - from 36 last year to 30 this year Nonetheless that makes Russia the worlds third largest billionaire-rich country after the United States and Germany But there is little evidence to suggest their wealth is trickling down And official statistics show the gap between the countrys rich and poor is increasing More than a quarter of Russias population continues to live on less than 80 a month - the level the government defines as poverty But what causes most concern among Russian academics is the widening income gap between the very richest and the very poorest Russias prestigious Academy of Sciences says the gap is now so large that it risks sparking off social unrest Population decline Coinciding with the latest Forbes rich list Russias ministry of regional development released figures showing the countrys population decline is accelerating Life expectancies remain low the rates of murder and suicide are among the worlds highest and there are warnings of an impending HIVAids time bomb Of more immediate concern is the countrys birth rate which is also continuing to drop Even cautious economists warn that a fundamentally new approach to social and economic policy is needed They say Russia cannot continue
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