Faced with a concerning decline in Russia’s population, President Vladimir Putin revived this week a Soviet-era award established in 1944 to encourage Russians to expand their families, said reports.
The “Mother Heroine” award, announced in a decree on Monday, is given to women who have ten or more children, offering financial incentives as well as social recognition in an effort to spur population growth, The Washington Post reported.
According to Russian media, Joseph Stalin established the honorary medal in the Soviet Union and awarded it to approximately 400,000 citizens. The resurrected award will provide Russian citizens with a one-time payment of one million rubles ($16,500) after their tenth child turns one year old — but only if the other nine children survive.
The medal made no mention of the Ukrainian war, the report said.
Kristin Roth-Ey, an associate professor at University College London’s School of Slavonic and East European Studies told the Post that the Stalin-era award was originally launched as part of a larger social package of “pronatalist” measures taken toward the end of World War II.
“It was about serving the motherland,” she explained. Its resurgence is “clearly a conscious echo of the Stalinist past.”
According to Roth-Ey, the award was established at a time when the Soviet Union was attempting to “plan for postwar reconstruction” and support families as “the core institution of Soviet society.” Other measures she mentioned included better health care for women, financial assistance, and making it more difficult for married couples to divorce.
“The war caused widespread concern about population loss….” It obviously has resonances with what is currently going on,” she added, referring to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which the Kremlin refers to as a special military operation.
Last month, CIA Director William J. Burns estimated that approximately 15,000 Russian soldiers had been killed in the Ukraine conflict, with up to 45,000 more injured. He cited the most recent American intelligence on Russian losses.