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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Moscow will open its first cemetery for the elite in almost 250 years, a popular newspaper reported on Wednesday, to make sure Russia's high mortality rate doesn't deprive the city's most famous residents of a final resting place.
Russia's population has fallen by some 6.8 million people since the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991 and mortality rates are more than 60 percent higher than those in the European Union.
The glitzy, exclusivity-loving Russian capital has two cemeteries for elite figures, Vaganskovskoye and Novodevichye, where space is running out.
Novodevichye houses former Russian president Boris Yeltsin and 19th century writer Anton Chekhov, amongst dozens of other writers and dignitaries.
The new cemetery will be reserved for those "who have made a meaningful contribution to the humanitarian sphere, or to culture, science or society," Komsomolskaya Pravda reported.
The cemetery will be paid for by the city and federal subsidies, and will be open from 2012.
Reporting by Thomas Grove; Editing by Steve Addison