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26 Mar, 2024 03:28

Demographics is Russia’s ‘Achilles heel’ – Kremlin

Traditional families with multiple children should become a “fashionable” social norm, Dmitry Peskov has said
Demographics is Russia’s ‘Achilles heel’ – Kremlin

Improving the demographic situation and achieving sustainable growth in birth rates is a matter of life and death for Russia, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in an interview with national media published on Tuesday.

President Vladimir Putin has designated 2024 the ‘Year of the Family’ in Russia, and according to his spokesman, the issue is of critical importance for the country.

“Demographics is probably our Achilles heel, our biggest problem. It cannot be resolved overnight. And so we desperately need to continue to take all possible measures that are aimed at correcting the demographic situation,” Peskov told the Argumenti i Fakty newspaper.

He added that Russia will continue to focus on improving the quality of family life by extending the maternity capital program and offering more financial benefits to single mothers and families with multiple children.

“At the same time, it is possible and necessary to promote large families,” said Peskov, himself a father of six. “Having many children should become fashionable. That’s why traditional values are so important to us… it is a matter of life and death for our country with its vast territory.” 

“There should be more of us! We have only 7 million people living beyond the Urals. We must have children, we must increase human mobility and live our lives in different cities, which should be equally comfortable,” he added. 

In his address to the Federal Assembly last month, President Putin admitted that Russia, like many other countries, is faced with a decline in birth rates. He suggested that all levels of government, civil society, and religion should work together to make large families the social norm, a cornerstone of social life, and a guideline of state strategy.

Putin has raised the issue of family sizes before, pointing to the lingering consequences of the 1990s demographic collapse, comparable in severity to that of the Second World War. While the number of abortions in Russia has declined significantly since 2000, the number of births in 2023 was just over 1.2 million, the lowest since 1999. The national statistics bureau, Rosstat, has predicted a continued decline in the birth rate through 2027.