Putin Calls On Russian Families To Have 3 Children
In a bullish state-of-the-nation address in Moscow on Wednesday, Mr Putin promised to smite corruption, create millions of new jobs and boost Russia‚Äôs military might while warning that foreign meddling in the country‚Äôs internal affairs was unacceptable.
He claimed the country shared universal democratic values, adding: ‚ÄúRussian democracy is the power of the Russian people with their own traditions of national self-government, and not the realisation of standards foisted on us from outside.‚ÄĚ
In characteristic rhetoric, Mr Putin also addressed internal as well as external enemies while suggesting a link between the two, saying that ‚Äúchinovniki‚ÄĚ (state officials) ‚ÄĒ often seen as corrupt caste bent on self-enrichment ‚ÄĒ should be prevented from keeping their money abroad.
‚ÄúWhat trust can there be in a ‚Äėchinovnik‚Äô or a politician who says big things about the welfare of Russia while trying to take his means, his money abroad?‚ÄĚ he asked MPs and senior officials. ‚ÄúI ask you to support legislation to limit the rights of state officials and politicians to foreign bank accounts and shares.‚ÄĚ
He added: ‚ÄúDirect or indirect external interference in our internal political processes is unacceptable. Any person who receives money from abroad for his or her political activity and by doing so serves alien national interests, cannot be a politician in Russia.‚ÄĚ
The president‚Äôs remarks came after a controversial law was recently introduced obliging non-governmental organisations (NGOs) involved in ‚Äúpolitical activity‚ÄĚ to call themselves ‚Äúforeign agents‚ÄĚ if they receive funding from abroad. NGOs have said the rule makes them look like spies.
Also in his speech, Mr Putin lauded recent measures to give cash payments and other benefits to mothers having a second child. Current birth rates show an average of 1.7 children are born to each Russian woman, but the president urged a huge leap in family-building.
New payments for those having a third child would begin next year, he said. ‚ÄúDemographers affirm that choosing to have a second child is already a potential choice in favour of a third,‚ÄĚ he added. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs important that families make that step… I am convinced that the norm in Russia should become a family with three children.‚ÄĚ
To achieve that goal, he said, women needed to be provided with the opportunity to continue work, so that they ‚Äúdid not fear that having a second and third child would close the path to a career‚ÄĚ.
Mr Putin has long equated Russia‚Äôs demographic decline over recent decades with a potential threat to security. On Wednesday, he added: ‚ÄúIn order for Russia to be a strong and sovereign country, there must be more of us and we must be better in morality, in our competences, our work and our creativity.‚ÄĚ
To applause, the president said there were already signs that Russia‚Äôs long term demographic decline was reversing, and the population had grown by 200,000 in the first nine months of this year. ‚ÄúThe birth rate is at last above the mortality rate,‚ÄĚ he said.
A 2010 census put the total population of Russia at 143,000,000.
Announcing a raft of other social and economic measures, Mr Putin said he hoped to create 25m jobs by 2020.
He made sweeping promises to develop industry, including aircraft and shipbuilding, and said the country‚Äôs military and space sectors must be modernised. ‚ÄúOur military might is the guarantor of Russia‚Äôs security and independence,‚ÄĚ he said.