Medvedev Decorates Prolific Parents

14 January 2009


Alexander Natruskin / Reuters

Medvedev recognizing Olga Maximova for having a large family Tuesday.


President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday handed out the inaugural state awards for couples with more than four children, a prize aimed at boosting the country's demographics that recalls Soviet-era honors for so-called "hero mothers."

Medvedev presented eight couples with the Order of Parental Glory at a ceremony in the Kremlin, saying the government will promote the "prestige of family values by all means."

Medvedev established the award with one of his first presidential decrees shortly after he took office in May. It is to be given to parents with four or more biological or adopted children who have created "socially responsible families with a healthy way of life," according to the decree.

It comes with a one-time reward of 50,000 rubles ($1,600) and makes the families eligible for certain social benefits from the governments of their respective regions.

The families honored on Tuesday hail from various regions. The Maltsevs, from the Kurgan region, are raising 18 children, including 13 that they adopted. The Osyaks from the Rostov region, meanwhile, have 17 biological children.

The new award is analogous to the Soviet-era decoration given to "hero mothers" who gave birth to or adopted 10 or more children. That award was discontinued in 1991.

Russia experienced a dramatic demographic decline after the collapse of the Soviet Union, its population shrinking by almost 1 million people each year.

Medvedev, who himself has one son, has called support for large families a state priority, and before his election he was responsible for implementing government programs aimed at curbing the demographic slide.

On Tuesday, he praised the government's effort to boost the country's birthrate, which he said grew by 8 percent in 2007 and 6 percent in 2008.

Demographers, however, have attributed the rise to the generation of baby boomers born in the 1980s who are now having children. A decline is looming, the demographers say, -because the country's birthrate dropped precipitously in the turbulent 1990s.