President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Tatiana Alekseyevna, we are here today to celebrate a very solemn and at the same time very touching ceremony, marking the first awards of the Order of Parental Honour. This is for special families, large families with 5 to 7 children, sometimes even 15 to 17 children, including foster children. Of course these are specific examples that deserve the maximum public respect and honour. Nevertheless, I would like to know more about the results of recent demographic policies, what the demographic indicators are for 2008, what we should be happy with, what we still need to figure out, and what we should focus on.
In addition I would like you to tell me more about the functioning of the Fund to Help Children in Difficult Situations. Because we created this Fund for a specific purpose and allocated specific funds to it, and it must already be producing results. So, please, give us your report.
Minister of Public Health and Social Development Tatiana Golikova: Yes, I was very pleased to attend this event today. You have already noted a number of indicators in your opening speech. The dynamics of the birth rate is very positive indeed, and we are delighted with that. The final results are not in yet – we expect them shortly – but there were more than 1,700,000 children born in 2008. This is 100,000 more than in the previous year.
It is gratifying to note – and we see these statistics according to the birth certificates – that it is not just young women who are giving birth, since it is often said that the positive developments are mostly characteristic of the generation of the 1980s. These are the second and third children born into families who have had children earlier, families that have now decided to have two or three children. That is a very positive trend.
Dmitry Medvedev: This is really very important. This means that these incentives, these mechanisms are actually working, as we might say.
Tatiana Golikova: There is another very encouraging fact: we have a 25 percent increase in the number of families in which twins and triplets have been born. Moreover, there were cases both in 2009 – as you have probably seen on television recently – and 2008, when families had quadruplets.
(The Minister then told the President about the results of 2008, the Year of the Family in Russia, and the work on a new plan for supporting families, mothers and children in 2009–2011.)
As for the Fund to Help Children in Difficult Situations, during a meeting of the board of trustees at the end of last year participants elaborated a list of its main future tasks and activities. Now the Fund's budget for 2009 is awaiting approval. I would like to remind that it is in the order of 5,2 billion roubles [about 173 million USD], but this does not mean that all the funds will be used in 2009. We will attract financial means from the budgets of the regions as well as from sponsors. These funds will mainly go to grants to support the best regional projects designed for families who are in difficult situations.
Dmitry Medvedev: Good. This work needs to continue because it really is very important.
As to demographics, together we developed a broad policy concept for demographic development, one that is designed for the long-term. So far, judging from the evidence in your reports and the information I receive, in general we are attaining the objectives that we set for ourselves. This is very gratifying but we need to maintain the indicators we set as our goals and to do so we need to take all necessary decisions and provide governmental support – both the support you referred to and perhaps other measures as well.
Tatiana Golikova: I think it is very important to have more such events [as awarding the Order of Parental Honour].
Dmitry Medvedev: This is a very good event. It was not in vain that a few years ago proposals to restore the awards and the statute of the Order of Maternal Honour and the Order of Parental Honour were made to the Presidential Executive Office and the government cabinet. It is good that all this has taken place.