Moscow - A Russian region of Ulyanovsk has found a novel way to fight the nation's birth-rate crisis: It has declared Sept. 12 the Day of Conception and for the third year running is giving couples time off from work to procreate.
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The hope is for a brood of babies exactly nine months later on Russia's national day. Couples who "give birth to a patriot" during the June 12 festivities win money, cars, refrigerators and other prizes.
Ulyanovsk, about 550 miles east of Moscow, has held similar contests since 2005. Since then, the number of competitors, and the number of babies born to them, has been on the rise.
Russia, with one-seventh of Earth's land surface, has just 141.4 million citizens, making it one of the most sparsely settled countries in the world. With a low birth rate and a high death rate, the population has been shrinking since the early 1990s.
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Ah, the procreation vacation. America has this too. We call it taking a sick day before a three-day weekend. Russia needs to get a little more creative with the patriot baby concept. They can cancel newspaper service, they can plan day long rolling blackouts, replace birth control with Ecstasy, turn off everyone’s cable and shut down the internet. Or possibly just replace their vodka with ginseng... and vodka. That would be a real vacation and a little glimpse back to the good old Soviet days. When the government got what they wanted and the citizens got screwed (and you’re welcome for the double entendre). We wonder if the OBGyns get a kick back from couples if the baby is delivered on the right day? A C-Section might not be so bad if you’re getting a new hatchback out of it.