Voicing concern over the "acute demographic situation in Russia," President Vladimir Putin has announced that the state will pay parents allowances for 18 months after they have their first child.
Speaking at a November 28 meeting of a presidential council responsible for the implementation of a 2012-2017 National Children’s Strategy, Putin said that families will start receiving the handouts -- the equivalent of about $180 per month -- as of January 1, 2018.
"Today, we need to undertake a range of measures to stabilize the Russian population and prevent it from decreasing in the coming decade," said Putin, who is widely expected to seek and win a new six-year term in a March election.
Russia's population has declined since peaking at more than 148 million in 1992, the year after the Soviet Union collapsed, and Putin has made efforts to reverse that one of his priorities over 18 years in power as president or prime minister.
At the meeting in Moscow, he said the government would "reset Russia's national demographic program" and pay particular attention to low-income families.
Special mortgages with lower interest rates will be introduced after January 1 for families with two children or more, he said..
The allowances for first children will be paid until the child reaches the age of 18 months, Putin said.
He said the cost to the budget had been estimated at 144.5 billion rubles ($2.5 billion) over three years.
Russia's population was 144.3 million in 2016, according to the World Bank.
With reporting by AFP, Interfax, and TASS