Putin Promises Russian Mothers $16K for Having Ten Children

Vladimir Putin is offering Russian mothers cash and an honorary title as his country faces a dwindling population.

The Russian leader will revive the "Mother Heroine" award that was first established under Soviet leader Josef Stalin in 1944, which was given to more than 400,000 women before being scrapped after the fall of the USSR in 1991.

Under the decree issued on Monday, a one-off payment of one million rubles ($16,400) will be "awarded to a mother who is a citizen of the Russian Federation, who has given birth to and brought up ten or more children who are citizens of the Russian Federation."

The prize is awarded on the condition that the other nine children are still alive. However, exceptions will be made for mothers whose children died or went missing "in defense of the Fatherland" or in the performance of "military service or civil duty."

Russian president Vladimir Putin
Russia's President Vladimir Putin at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence, outside Moscow on August 15, 2022. He has revived the Mother Heroine award aimed at encouraging population growth in Russia. PAVEL BYRKIN/Getty Images

The title is to be included on Russia's list of highest-ranking state orders, such as the "Hero of Russia" and "Hero of Labor."

The decree instructs recipients to wear the award—a five-pointed star surrounding the Russian state emblem next to the Mother Heroine wording—on the left side of the chest.

Russia's population has been in decline for decades, with figures released in July by the state statistics agency Rosstat showing it had fallen to 145.1 million.

This followed a decline of an average of 86,000 people per month for the first six months of the year—a record.

It is estimated that Russia's population will fall to about 132 million in the next two decades, with the United Nations predicting that in a worst-case scenario, its population could almost halve, to just 83 million by the start of the next century.

Adding to the demographic crisis are the tens of thousands of Russian troops who have died in Putin's invasion of Ukraine, according to some estimates, and the hundreds of thousands who have left the country because of the war.

Putin has previously praised large families and their importance to Russia and The Parental Glory award was created in 2008 for families with seven or more children.

The Russian leader is the youngest of three brothers and the only one to survive childhood. His eldest brother, Albert, died in infancy in the 1930s and his other brother, Viktor, died in 1942, during the Nazi siege of Leningrad, which is present day St. Petersburg.

Putin is known to have two daughters with his former wife, Lyudmila. However, he is also widely believed to have other children with Alina Kabaeva, an ex-Olympic gymnast, although this has never been publicly confirmed.