‘We must return to what we had before the revolution. Large families was a norm’
The members of the Volga Expert Club positively assess the results of the national Demography project, but believe that it should be expanded and extended
The first of ten meetings of the Volga Expert Club scheduled for 2024 took place in Kazan. The meeting, which was attended by high-ranking guests from Moscow and the regions, State Duma deputies, including from Tatarstan, devoted to the implementation of the Demography national project. What results have been achieved in the 5 years since its launch, and what remains to be done — in the reportage of Realnoe Vremya.
As the participants of the Volga Expert Club themselves explained, it was not by chance that they decided to start a new cycle of meetings with a discussion of the results of the Demography project achieved over the five-year period. At the end of November 2023, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared 2024 the Year of Family.
My family is my fortress
“Today, the security of our state and its defence capability directly depend on the demographic factor — on how many of us live in Russia today. Our President Vladimir Putin also spoke about this," recalled State Duma deputy from the Republic of Tatarstan, member of the Duma Committee on Labour, Social Policy and Veterans Affairs, Olga Pavlova.
And according to another parliamentarian, Yaroslav Nilov, the chairman of the State Duma Committee on Labour, Social Policy and Veterans Affairs, it is not enough for us.
“It should be understood that the issue of support for families, large families, single families is an issue that is always in the state's field of view, especially considering that today we are in a demographic hole. The prerequisites for this were long ago. In the 90s, many people died: both in the territory of the North Caucasus in “hot spots” and in various criminal shoot-outs. They were mostly young people. We are still experiencing the consequences. The special military operation also involves certain adjustments and losses. Covid-19, of course, also had an impact," Nilov listed the factors, adding that the pandemic only increased the negative growth.
According to him, population decline is recorded in almost all subjects of the Russian Federation, with the exception of certain regions of the North Caucasus.
This is a fact that needs to be done, the deputy summed up. However, according to Nilov, emphasis should be placed on strengthening existing and developing new measures of state support for families, as well as “adjusting” information policy in favour of popularising the family, family values and having many children. But at the same time, pressure should be avoided, and even more so prohibitions.
This is a woman's right, she will determine for herself
“In no case should we forbid, force, or frighten. The debate that has been hovering in society lately is about banning women from having abortions. I think it only does harm. This is a woman's right, she will determine for herself. Another thing is that the state should take measures of a material nature, emotional and psychological, so that a woman voluntarily refuses (an abortion — ed.). See what we can come to. There has been some kind of madness lately: a baby is thrown into a snowdrift, another baby is thrown out while being drunk, and he dies in front of his parents — he froze in the snow, a baby is beaten, another baby is killed. But these are wild situations. Therefore, in addition to that we must create conditions for a woman to get pregnant and give birth, so that children are brought up, we must also adjust the information policy in a peculiar way," the deputy said.
In his opinion, it is necessary to “promote large families, show good examples, and not show two transgender people who cannot figure out which of them is father and which is mother.”
“Showing large families with 10 children, 5 children. Children are educated, growing up, have goals, want to develop, and play sports. Everything that we had before the revolution, we must return to it. Having many children was a norm," Nilov recalled a story.
The head of the Duma Committee on Labor, Social Policy, and Veterans Affairs believes that “much has already been done in this direction”.
“If we look at what happened 10 years ago, there were 2 million official abortions, and twice as many unofficial ones. Today, the figures are much smaller. Medications for medical abortion are sold only by prescription. Drugs such as baby kaput are prohibited for free sale. China has flooded us with them. The Far East — ordered via the Internet. It all affects demographics," Nilov said.
However, he believes that funds for the treatment of infertile couples should be included in the project budget.
“We have a quota distribution of such free operations and procedures. Quotas remain in some regions, while in others there is a need. We need to redistribute it faster," Nilov believes.
Besides, in his opinion, it should be allowed to spend maternity capital on paid treatment of children, and on expensive medicines, as well as to open kindergartens at universities.
“There is already such a practice. A mother can raise a child without interrupting her studies. She understands that, first of all, she must think, in addition to raising a child, about her career, about employment, about income," the parliamentarian said.
Birth rate is higher than throughout the country
The Minister of Labor, Employment and Social Protection of the Republic of Tatarstan, Elmira Zaripova, in turn, noted that the birth rate in the republic is much better than the national average.
“The birth rate per thousand people in the republic is 9.1. This is higher than the average for the Volga Federal District and the average for Russia, where it is more than eight. Even in quantitative absolutes to the number of large families. In the year when we joined the national projects, and over the past 10 years, their number has doubled from 24 thousand to 50,200," Zaripova said.
“Demographic” results in Tatarstan
According to her, this is a direct result of the implementation of the Demography project in Tatarstan, for which no expense is spared.
“By the end of 2023, if we take the budget of our ministry alone, every second ruble of the budget of the social protection industry was directed in favour of the family. These are both large families and families where children with disabilities are brought up. These are families where only one mother or father raise a child. In each of these situations, we come to the rescue and provide support. In total, 61 measures of social support are being implemented in the republic. The general circle includes 1.2 million residents who receive some kind of assistance through our line," the minister said.
And starting this year, another support will begin to operate in the republic.
“I must say about the measures that we took literally in December at the level of the republic. This is support for orphans and children with disabilities in terms of re-education. Unfortunately, children with disabilities, especially orphans, who have once received education in the professions of skilled workers in the vocational education system, cannot realise themselves. From the republican budget, we give once again the opportunity to undergo training, and most importantly, during this training, we provide a monthly allowance, as well as a literature allowance," Pavlova said.
In her opinion, a good job that brings a stable income is the key to creating not just a “cell of society”, but also a family with a large number of children.
Besides, she announced the introduction of a new subject in the schools of the republic — family studies.
“Today, it is important for us to work on the moral factor, on the development of moral guidelines," the deputy explained this initiative.
At the end of the meeting, Yaroslav Nilov assured that “the national Demography project has justified itself, it must be continued”.