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RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH CONCERNED OVER RUSSIA'S FUTURE

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  • tankercapt@aol.com
    2004-10-22 11:53 RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH CONCERNED OVER RUSSIA S FUTURE MOSCOW (RIA Novosti commentator Olga Sobolevskaya) The average life expectancy in
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 22, 2004
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      2004-10-22 11:53
      RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH CONCERNED OVER RUSSIA'S FUTURE
      MOSCOW (RIA Novosti commentator Olga Sobolevskaya)
      The average life expectancy in Russia is merely 65 years, and the population
      is declining at a rate of up to a million a year.
      "We are already faced with a choice: either our Fatherland will exist in the
      future or it will not," Patriarch Alexy II said at a forum, The Spiritual and
      Moral Fundamentals of Russia's Demographic Development. The death rate has
      been exceeding the birth rate in Russia for nearly 15 years. The country's
      population stands at only 144.2 million, which is an extremely small number given
      its vast size. Experts at the Center for Demography and Human Ecology of the
      Russian Academy of Sciences compare Russia's losses caused by the increasing
      death rate in all age groups with military losses. The death rate for working age
      people is growing as well; last year, over 233,000 people died prematurely. As
      a result, male life expectancy in Russia is only 58-59 years (134th in the
      world) and female life expectancy is 72 years (100th place). The main reasons
      for these figures are alcoholism and drug addiction, which lead to illnesses and
      accidents. However, Vladimir Putin believes that these reasons "originate
      from economic decline, the degradation of the social sphere, low living standards
      and alienation from the main political, economic and cultural centers in the
      country." In his opinion, the population decline can only be prevented by
      economic and social development.
      The patriarch put the demographic crisis down to the "spiritual ill-being of
      the nation and neglect for high moral values." "Russia has gone through harder
      times in economic terms," Alexy II said at the forum, "but, as they were
      morally healthy, people saw the family as the absolute value and, despite
      difficulties, had many children and responsibly raised them."
      The Russian Orthodox Church, sociologists and public leaders see strong
      family values as an effective remedy for demographic illnesses. They were mainly
      discredited by the "second demographic revolution" imported from the West in the
      early 1990s. It led to the family crisis, growth of unregistered marriages
      and abortions. Women now tend to forge a career first and then have children. As
      a result, the birth rate in Russia is now the lowest in Europe: there are
      merely 1.25 childbirths per woman, compared with the needed 2.2. "If the tendency
      persists, we could reach the point of no return, when it would be impossible
      to reverse the decline and restore the country's population," says Alexander
      Chuyev, deputy head of the Duma committee for public associations and religious
      organizations.
      Meanwhile, Church representatives claim the media is promoting "immorality,
      selfishness, the cult of profit-making and freedom from morality," and some
      married couples are not going to have children at all because they want to
      maintain their current comforts.
      The patriarch stressed that there should be no unattended orphans, while
      families with many children and those adopting children should be supported, and
      schoolchildren should be taught family values. "Everything that helps to
      promote family values should be in the focus of the efforts of the Church, the state
      and society," he declared.
      According to Mikhail Zurabov, Russia's minister of health and social
      development, the demographic situation can also be improved through the use of
      mortgages. Some regions, e.g., Bashkiria and Udmurtia, are already writing off
      housing debts to young families with children and provide tax privileges for them.
      Other regions, in particular provinces in central Russia and in the Volga and
      Siberian federal districts, are trying to encourage reproduction with
      economic methods and, apart from the federal non-recurrent benefits per newly-born
      (4,500 rubles from the employer, 2,000 from the local authorities and 500-ruble
      monthly payments for childcare; $1 equals 29 rubles), provide "prizes" to
      young families for births. In Moscow, parents under 30 receive a prize of 16,000
      rubles for their first child. The third child is "worth" 32,000 rubles. St.
      Petersburg families "earn" 8,000 rubles for a baby. In many cities, young parents
      receive job-hunting help. All this is added to the federal targeted program
      Children of Russia that includes the Healthy Child plan. In St. Petersburg,
      Kostroma, Vologda, Tyumen, Sakhalinsk, Yekaterinburg, Perm and Surgut, such
      support has raised the birth rate by an average of 7%. The government has already
      drafted a program for the next four years that includes measures to provide
      economic growth, improve the social sphere and the demographic situation, Deputy
      Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov said in June.
      Experts at the Center for Demography and Human Ecology of the Russian Academy
      of Sciences add that "demographic prosperity" requires an increase in budget
      allocations for healthcare, the environment and the promotion of a healthy
      lifestyle. The entire social climate of everyday life should be altered, experts
      conclude.


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