The Government of the Russian Federation under President Vladimir Putin has made a move that is drawing the attention of news services and nations around the world.
Putin has announced the resurrection of a Soviet-Era program, restoring the honorary title of “Mother Heroine” to women who birth 10 or more Russian children and rewarding them financially.
The decree will, “Establish the title ‘Mother-Heroine’ for the assignment of a mother who is a citizen of the Russian Federation, who gave birth and raised ten or more children who are citizens of the Russian Federation.”
And, “Establish that when conferring the title of ‘Mother Heroine,’ the awarded mother is paid a one-time monetary incentive in the amount of 1 million rubles in the manner determined by the Government of the Russian Federation.”
Recipient mothers are also set to receive a medal of a five-pointed star, the decree states, “made of gold with a diamond and enamel.”
According to Fox News, the reward for the honor of 1 million Russian rubles equates to approximately $16,645 U.S. dollars. There are a few caveats for a mother receiving the honor from the Kremlin, however, notably that all ten children must be alive at the tenth child’s first birthday unless they were killed “serving in the military, civic service or a terrorist attack.”
Furthermore, the children must be well cared for, receiving in the Kremlin’s estimation the “appropriate level of care for health, education, physical, spiritual and moral development.”
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Rebekah Koffler, a former U.S. DIA intelligence officer focused on Russia told Fox, “Putin is reviving this Soviet-era tactic to offset the impact of his war on Ukraine, in which thousands of young child-producing age men are dying. But the truth is no rational young woman will have 10 children in Russia. First, the economic conditions don’t allow this. There’s no culture of having so many children. Since religion was outlawed in the USSR, the religious groups, like Catholics, who would otherwise have many children, do not.”
The program was originally launched by the Soviet Union in 1944 under General Secretary Joseph Stalin by decree of the Supreme Soviet in order to “increase financial assistance to pregnant women, mothers with many children and single mothers, to encourage large families and to strengthen the protection of motherhood and childhood”
Koffler told Fox that she recalls the “‘Mother Heroine’ title as a young girl growing up in Russia as part of the country’s plan over the years to ‘replenish the population lost during World War II, the famine and Stalin’s purges.’”
The program remained in effect until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The population of Russia has been in a steep decline, averaging a record decrease of 86,000 people per month for the first six months of 2022 according to Newsweek.
Estimates from World Population Review place Soviet losses in World War II in the range of 27 million across the entire Union. It was a demographic loss from which Yekaterina Sinelschikova of Russia Beyond wrote, “Even more than 75 years on, the country still hasn’t recovered.”
She explained, “Firstly, the situation was aggravated by the fact that the losses were not equally spread across all age groups: The dead included predominantly people of conscription age (17-55, which was also considered the fertility age). Secondly, it was men whose numbers mainly declined. And, as a result, there was a major gender imbalance in the population.”
“The imbalance between men and women in Russia turned out to be even bigger than in Ukraine or Belarus, which were entirely occupied during the war, while in the RSFSR [Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic] approximately only a quarter of the population was under occupation,” Nikolai Savchenko, a human losses researcher, points out.”
World Population Review noted that Russia has one of the lowest fertility rates in the world at only 1.58 live births per woman, well below the 2.1 replacement rate. Russia also has one of the oldest populations in the world with a national average age of 40.3 years.
The review concluded, “The rate of change of the Russian population is very close to 0% at present, and the population isn’t expected to change much by 2020. Further in the future, it is expected that the population will continue to decline slowly, getting down to 140 million by 2030, and 136 million by 2040.”