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Profiles of Young Russians Receiving Gov't Support to Have Children (Long Russian TV Report)

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The Russian government continues with serious efforts to boost birth rates, with some success, although not enough to reverse her declining demographics.

The first 4 minutes of this 15 minute segment is about such programs even with Eskimos who have to be reached by helicopter, presumably to emphasize to what extent the government goes to do these programs, and some good old white guilt virtue-signaling , but after that the couples are more typical young Russians from across the country.

Full transcript below:


Praskovya Laptander: "It's a child malitsa Both sides are made from deer hide."

It's the third overcoat sewn by Praskovya Laptander for her younger son. It's the only national clothing that saves them in the cold tundra. In winter, the temperature can drop to - 80 F. This tent is also made from deer hide. It's called a chum. It took our crew a 12-hour drive to get here from the closest city of Salekhard to film this interview.

Almost 16,500 members of Yamal's indigenous groups are nomads. We're going to visit one of them. It's a 90-km off-road trip. It'll take us about 5-6 hours to reach them in a rover. Well, off we go! Even though we set off at dawn, we reached the settlement at sunset.

Several generations of the Laptander family have been breeding deer. Currently, their herd consists of about 2,000 animals watched over by only three people. It's a winter encampment. The nomads came here in December and will be staying here until April.

Today, Yamal is inhabited by 42,000 representatives of indigenous minority groups. Between 2002 and 2010, their population increased by approximately 11.5%, which amounts to more than 4,000 people.

Praskovya Laptander's second son, Vladimir, was born in the spring of 2017. At the same time, his parents received the maternity capital, which currently amounts to about $8,000. A family receives it for having a second child. However, there are restrictions on where to spend the money, one can use it to improve their living conditions or to pay their kids' education. If a child was born after midnight on January 1, 2018, you can sign up for monthly payments. But right now, it's impossible to find such mothers in the tundra. Women return here one month after giving birth at the soonest.

Remote villages and hard-to-reach districts that are impossible to reach by car receive ambulance helicopters instead. During 2017, Yamal's medical aviation conducted 1,000 flights and evacuated about 3,500 patients, including pregnant women.

Irina Uksyumova didn't have to fly to a perinatal center. Her parents live in a village about 150 km from Salekhard They hunt and fish for a living, while Irina and her husband rent an apartment in the city and study off campus in Tyumen. This time, they'll have someone to cheer them up during the finals: their son was born on January 21.

Irina Uksyumova: "During the next exams, my mom promised to come. She is Sasha's grandmother. He'll be two months old when we go there in April. His dad will come too, our finals are at the same time."

"Here's your baby's first document, his birth certificate. Here you go."

It's a rare case when the Bureau of Vital Statistics visits its clients. The Uksyumovs are the first Yamal family to have a right to receive the monthly payment for their first child. A birth certificate is required to apply for it. The main condition is for the baby to be born after January 1, 2018. Besides, the family's income for the preceding year has to be lower than 1.5 living wage per one family member.

How to calculate this: For example, the monthly living wage in Yamal is 16,751 rubles (~$300). So for a family to be eligible for the payment, the income per family member has to be lower than $400. If all numbers are correct, the family will receive 15,897 rubles (~$280) per month until the baby turns 1.5 years old.

Evgeny Uksyumov: "I am a navigator at the Salekhard river port. In summer, we transport cargo to the villages. My monthly wage is about 40,000 rubles (~$700). Sometimes, I get bonuses but they are not big. It's not enough to feed a family of three. Some extra money would help."

You can apply for the payment at a Social Security office or at a Multipurpose Center. Along with the baby's birth certificate and the parents' passports, income certificates of family members are to be submitted. For example, Irina is a university student and isn't working now. She needs to prove that and produce her employment record book. Evgeny will have to come back to the Multipurpose Center and bring additional documents.

Evgeny Uksyumov: "I produced my proof of employment dating back to May when I started working. I also have to bring certificates from my previous place of work.”

In each region, the payment amount is different, as is the living wage. The Russian average is of 10,200 rubles (~$180). For example, in Belgorod Oblast it doesn't exceed 8,500 rubles (~$150), in Murmansk, 15,000 rubles (~$265). The highest amount of payment is in Chukotka: over 22,000 rubles (~$400). But the living wage there is also higher.

Tatiana Kiyas: "Diapers are quite expensive. A baby requires about 200 diapers per month which is worth a lot of money. Also, the food. If a baby's bottle-fed, we receive baby's formulas but we still have to buy extra."

For a long time, Tatiana and Artyom Kiyas had doubts whether they could afford to have children. Artyom is a choreographer. In 2005, he moved to the far-northern city of Anadyr. But now, the new payments might allow them to have a second child.

In general, the government allocated almost 21.5 billion rubles (~$376,640,000) for the first-child payments and over 24.5 billion (~$431,200,000) to the pension capital fund for the maternity capital paid after a family has a second child. This budget is only for 2018.

Maxim Topilin, Minister of Labor: "We've allocated over 5 billion dollars for first and second child payments for a three-year period. Anyway, the program has been launched, and if it exceeds the plan, which I personally find to be great, we'll consider requesting additional funding."

"Alexey is two minutes older. His name means protector, so he had to come first." The protector and bread-winner. Natalia and Alexander Tyurin had twins in January. In this case, they receive both payments simultaneously. To save time, you can apply for both at a Multipurpose Center. But the Tyurins decided to receive benefits only for their first child.

Natalia Tyurina: "We won't be getting monthly payments for our second child. We'll spend the whole sum later to buy an apartment."

This aspect is very important: the first child payments don't replace or cancel other benefits. The second child payments are extracted from the maternity capital. The parents have to choose whether they want to split the $8000 into monthly payments and freely spend them, or get a check on the full sum, which could be used to pay back mortgage or finance pre-school education.

Anton Drozdov, pension capital fund: "We received about 500 payment requests for pre-school institutions. It's a new way of using the maternity capital. Now, you don't have to wait for your kid to turn three. You can pay for their education since the day they were born."

Another option is a three-year concessionary mortgage rate of 6% for those who had their second baby in 2018, and a five-year one for those who had their third one.

Olga Volkova: "On January 1, we had our second baby. We're renovating our apartment. We want the 6% mortgage benefit."

The Volkovs are in the middle of renovation. They bought this two-room apartment in Tver with a 9% mortgage rate in late November, less than two months before their second kid was born.

Olga Volkova: "Everybody told me not to give birth before January 1 so that I could get the benefits. And he was born on January 1."

The pros of the concessionary mortgage program: It doesn't have an income restriction. Every Russian family who had their second or third baby in 2018 can get concessionary mortgage rates.

Maxim Topilin, Minister of Labor: "The benefits were to support those whose income is insufficient. As for mortgage, it is something many people can't afford. So the whole set of our demographic measures is aimed to support various groups of citizens. And I believe that the concessionary mortgage program serves as a great incentive. With current mortgage rates being almost 10%, every family could use a 4% mortgage rate cut."

It took the Volkovs almost 5 years to save money for their first apartment. They don't earn much: Olga used to work as a seamstress at a local factory, earning about 10,000 rubles (~$175) per month. Dmitry repairs computers and other devices, with an income of 20,000-30,000 rubles (~$350-$500) per month. They have to feed a family of four. Ultimately, the client service of the pension capital fund gave them an option to get monthly payments from the maternity capital or use it to pay back their mortgage. In their case, the 6% concessionary rate proved to be impossible to obtain.

"Yes, there are concessionary mortgage rates. But this project is intended for families who buy apartments in new-built houses, thus becoming the first owners."

Olga and Dmitry purchased their apartment from its previous owner. Their perfect way to use their maternity capital is to pay back a part of their mortgage.

Dmitry Volkov: "You can pay back the whole sum or extract $175 from the maternity capital monthly. We prefer paying the whole sum. The bank decreases our mortgage by $175 for each $1750 we pay back. Roughly speaking, we saved about $800."

For now, purchasing an apartment is the most popular option to invest maternity capital.

Olga Golodets, Deputy Prime Minister: "Since maternity capital was introduced in Russia, 5,200,000 families have used it. Most of them, 98%, spent it to purchase an apartment.”

However, some people chose monthly payments. By early February, more than 280 people have requested it. The Taushkanov family from Adygea were among those 280. Elena doesn't have an occupation, and Egor is a soldier. This January, they had a second child. Maternity capital payments constitute about a half of their family budget.

Egor Taushkanov: "It's even higher than an average salary in our region. Our income increases by about 50%."

Besides the adoption of new benefits, the maternity capital program as a whole was prolonged until 2022. In January 2020, the sum will increase by 4%. It will be of 471,000 rubles(~$8,300) instead of the current 453,000 (~$8,000). The pension capital fund explains: If a baby was born in 2018 but the family decides to get their certificate in 2020, they'll get the increased sum.

Anton Drozdov, pension capital fund: "The sum will be calculated upon request. In 2007, when the program was launched, it was of ~$4,400 (250,000 rubles). Currently, it has increased to 453,000 rubles (~$8,000), which is exactly how much we'll pay upon request."

About 3,400 families from across the country have requested their first-child payments. And that's just the beginning. According to the preliminary estimates of the Labor Ministry, 340,000 people can request them each year. The aim is to accomplish the demographic goal: According to the statistics, in some regions not everyone dares to have their first child. The Salekhard authorities even started preparing a special regional payment.

Elena Karpova, social security worker: "The first child birth rate is falling. The second child rate is stable, it makes up about 30% of the whole index. Previously, the first child rate was of 40-45%. Now, it's dropped to almost 30%. So we're happy the President made a decision to pay additional money for those who have their first kid."

Olga and Dmitry Volkov are currently living with their parents, six people in their two-room apartment. By summer, they plan to finish the renovation and move to their own place. Maternity capital allowed them to decrease their mortgage by a quarter. It means they can pay it back faster and begin thinking about building their own house and having a third child.

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