To improve the demographic situation in the Ulyanovsk region, local authorities have declared September 12 the day off as part of Governor Sergei Morozov’s initiative dubbed “Give Birth to a Patriot.” Pravda.ru readers were requested to speak their minds on the governor’s initiative and the idea of a nationwide extra day off that would be used for procreation purposes.
The Russian media previously reported that Morozov had decided to declare September 12 “Conception Day” – a holiday to encourage people to go forth and multiply. He was reportedly going to call on the Russian government to follow suit. Speaking to Pravda.ru, a spokesperson for the governor’s office called the reports a “groundless rumor.” The new holiday would be called “Family Contact Day,” the spokesperson said. A different name cannot change the essence of the holiday, which is apparently aimed at improving the demographic situation in the region.
The Ulyanovsk initiative, called “Give Birth to a Patriot,” has been held in the region since 2005. Local officials point out positive results of the last year’s contest that was designed to encourage families to have children on the June 12, the Russia Day state holiday. About 80 babies were born in the region on June 12, 2006. The governor expressed satisfaction about the way his instructions were being followed.
The governor’s initiative gave rise to a public debate in the region. Although some local politicians characterize the idea as praiseworthy, they believe a sensible approach should be used for dealing with issues relating to procreation. Others are reportedly fuming at the idea. “Are we supposed to live our lives by order of the governor from now on?” the angry ones were quoted as saying. Some local officials are confident that the government should not meddle in one’s private life.
At the request of Pravda.ru, our readers provided comments on the above initiative of Ulyanovsk’s governor:
Ruslan, 26: “No rules or ‘holidays’ can spark the feelings of attraction. If young spouses want to increase the number of people living in this country, they will do it night or day, on a kitchen table or a park bench or at the backseat of a car. I believe politicians should keep off the matters related to one’s bedroom.”
Maria, 41: “I just don’t understand what this holiday is all about. Does it mean that we’re supposed to go home and have sex on September 12? Is it directed at improving the demographic situation? It’s just bull, as far as I’m concerned. They may as well start shutting off electricity again on weekends, the way they did in the past. You know, no electricity, no TV so people will have to find a way to kill time in the dark… From my point of view, the authorities should take real steps to support young families instead of declaring holidays. Women wouldn’t be afraid to be children then.”
Kirill, 22: “It’s a wonderful idea. Holiday always sounds great to me. The day is an extra day off which I’d spend according to my liking.”
Svetlana, 30: “Such measures will probably help to promote family values among young people. You know, the young usually love to embrace a fad, some brand-new fashion trend. On the other hand, the plan is likely to fall through if no incentives are provided for the young families.”
Lyubov, 50: “It’s simply a part of the present-day PR campaign aiming to ‘improve the demographic situation’ in this country.
Do the Russians need a decree from above to multiply these days? In other words, can they make babies of their own free will? If they can’t, the government had better start encouraging people make love right in the middle of the city for the benefit of the public. We shouldn’t do it between the sheets; it’s out of step with the government program. Let’s do as we’re told. The whole country, each and every citizen of Russia should do his best to keep the authorities happy.”
Lilia, 29: “Giving people an additional holiday or day off is not a top priority. The authorities should start by adopting special programs to support young mothers and their children. ‘Conception days’ won’t work if there’s a lack of good-quality kindergartens. The young mothers are still paid peanuts the authorities keep calling allowances for some reason. Besides, today’s young mothers just cannot find a good job once their maternity leave is over.”
Alexander, 32: “One day is not enough for improving the demographic situation. They’d better make it a month-long holiday. The job will be done, no doubt about it. Making babies is not a problem. Feeding and raising them is a real challenge. Keeping in mind our wages and standard of living, the challenge seems more like a mission impossible. That’s what the authorities should focus on.”
Translated by Guerman Grachev