Drink less and multiply more: Putin to Russians
Speaking to the State Duma in one of his last major speeches as Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin calls on Russians to have more children while warning them against rampant alcohol, drug and tobacco use
President-elect Vladimir Putin yesterday called on Russians to have more children and warned against rampant smoking, drugs and alcohol, as he seeks to battle the country’s acute demographic crisis during his third term in the Kremlin.
“For Russia every person counts today,” Putin said. “A strong, happy family with several children is what the state, society, religious, educational and cultural organizations should unite their efforts around.”
Speaking to the State Duma, the lower house of Parliament, in one of his last major speeches as Prime Minister before his return to the Kremlin on May 7, he also said rampant smoking and drug and alcohol abuse claimed 500,000 lives a year. “Smoking, alcohol and drug abuse without any wars or calamities claim 500,000 lives of our countrymen every year,” Putin told the Duma. “This is simply a horrific figure.”
“We should realize that we will come face to face with a serious challenge, the demographic echo of the 1990s when Russia experienced its severest drop in birth rates. We need new decisive steps when it comes to saving and caring for people.”
During his presidential campaign earlier this year, Putin vowed to reverse Russia’s demographic crisis exacerbated by unhealthy lifestyles, blatant disregard for safety protocols and traffic accidents, in order to boost its population to 154 million. The country’s latest census showed that the country’s population had shrunk by 2.2 million people since 2002 and now stands at 142.9 million. Putin said he had already made progress on this as Prime Minister, with the number of second-time mothers having grown by 45 percent over the past five years, and the number of women choosing to have three or more children having increased by 62 percent. “It was quite unexpected for me,” he said. “More and more Russian families are deciding to have two or even three children.”