Why Putin is paying women to have more children… Inside Russia’s super families

Why Putin is paying women to have more children… Inside Russia’s super families, by Marcel Theroux.

Surrounded by her brood of 18 children, Nadezhda Osyak winces as she recalls the pain of childbirth: ‘It doesn’t get any easier. It’s called labour for a reason.’ Nadezhda is a youthful brunette in her early 50s whose trim figure belies her astonishing maternal accomplishments.

‘I gave birth to 15 naturally,’ she says, ‘and three by caesarean. Those three were like a holiday.’  She and her husband, Ioann, a priest in Russia’s Orthodox Church, had their first child in 1984, just before Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the Soviet Union, and their 18th in 2009, by which time communism and the USSR were already distant memories. …

It’s been clear to Russian policymakers for a while that their country is facing a demographic crisis. After the break up of the Soviet Union, the population of Russia shrank by up to 700,000  a year. …

Suddenly, the endgame of Russian history seemed worryingly imminent – and it wasn’t a nuclear Armageddon.

With too few live births to offset the death rate, the Russian population was simply slipping down the plughole of history. During the presidential-election campaign in 2012, Vladimir Putin sounded the alarm. …

But the government has suggested one simple potential solution: Russian parents need to make like the Osyaks and reproduce more.  So far the government’s choice of aphrodisiac has been a combination of cash and propaganda. Since 2007, extra money has been given to parents on the birth of their second and third children. A special prize –- the Order of Parental Glory –- was established in 2008.

Parents with seven or more children (biological or adopted) are invited to the Kremlin and receive the medal from the president himself.

hat-tip Stephen Neil