Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered Russian mothers an extraordinary cash bonus if they have 10 or more children, reviving a Soviet-era incentive as a nation of 145 million plans for the future.
The honorary Mother Heroine award – which also offers social benefits – was first established by communist dictator Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union. The initial honor was given to around 400,000 citizens, according to Russian media.
Putin’s edition of the prize will offer citizens a one-time payment of 1 million rubles (16,667 USD) after the first birthday of their 10th child.
The mothers will only be eligible for the hefty bonus – which tops Russia’s average annual salary of around 750,000 rubles – if the other nine children survive.
Kristin Roth-Ey, an expert in Slavic and East European studies, said the “honour” was Putin’s attempt to bolster the population and encourage a particular strain of nationalism in the population, which has since months forced to struggle with the economic impact of its war with Ukraine.
“It was about serving the country,” she said via The Washington Post. “(It’s) obviously a conscious echo of the Stalinist past.”
Roth-Ey said the Stalin Prize was conceived as the Soviet Union tried to “plan for post-war reconstruction” and to support families as a “central institution of Soviet society”, after the deaths of countless millions of working-age men during World War II.
Putin on Tuesday accused Washington of seeking to prolong the conflict in Ukraine and fueling conflicts elsewhere in the world, including with US President Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
“The situation in Ukraine shows that the United States is trying to prolong this conflict. And they act in exactly the same way, fueling the potential for conflict in Asia, Africa and Latin America,” Putin said in televised remarks, addressing the opening ceremony of a security conference in Moscow by video link.
“The American adventure regarding Taiwan is not just the journey of an irresponsible politician, but is part of a deliberate and conscious American strategy to destabilize and chaotic the situation in the region and in the world,” he said. he added.
He said the visit was a “shameless display of disrespect for the sovereignty of other countries and for its (Washington’s) international obligations.”
“We see this as a carefully planned provocation,” Putin said.
Relations between Moscow and Washington have been in tatters since Russia launched a military intervention in pro-Western Ukraine in late February.
Pounded by an unprecedented barrage of Western sanctions, Putin has sought to strengthen ties with countries in Africa and Asia, especially China.
Moscow stood in full solidarity with its key ally Beijing during Pelosi’s visit in August to democratic and self-governing Taiwan, which China considers its territory.
Earlier this week, a leaked document suggested a senior Kremlin official had approached the West in a bid to end Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as the conflict in the region continues into its sixth month. .
“A representative of Putin’s entourage sent a signal to the West about the willingness to negotiate. The mood of the Kremlin elite is panic,” said the document, obtained by reporters in Europe.
The document, which was reportedly sent to Western intelligence officials, partially identified the anonymous Kremlin insider as “one of the pillars of the regime”.
They are believed to have reached out via a Western diplomat or CIA officer.
Reports claim that insiders close to Putin are growing increasingly worried about the Russian economy amid crippling sanctions imposed by the West.
There is also great concern over the devolved situation at the Zaporizhzhia power plant, which analysts and government officials have repeatedly warned will turn into a “nuclear disaster” if the conflict continues near its reactors.
“There is an urgent need to authorize the inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency and to ensure the withdrawal of all Russian forces,” NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday.
Russian military control of the facility “endangers the people of Ukraine, neighboring countries and the international community,” Stoltenberg added.
“Russian troops… are now using the ground around the nuclear plant as a staging area, as a platform, to launch artillery attacks against Ukrainian forces, and that’s reckless, that’s irresponsible.” Stoltenberg made the comments during separate press conferences Wednesday with the presidents of Serbia and Kosovo.
In March, Russian forces captured the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine shortly after the invasion.
The plant is the largest in Europe, and uncertainty surrounding it as war rages has fueled fears of a nuclear accident comparable to Chernobyl in 1986, when a reactor exploded.