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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Couples Get a Day to Make Babies

Ulyanovsk's governor wants citizens to go forth and multiply.

Governor Sergei Morozov has declared Wednesday "Family Contact Day" as part of an initiative under which prizes are awarded to families that have babies on Russia Day. Wednesday is precisely nine months before the June 12 holiday, prompting some newspapers to dub the celebration "Conception Day."

The Ulyanovsk initiative, called "Give Birth to a Patriot on Russia Day," is in line with President Vladimir Putin's call to fight the demographic crisis by increasing the birthrate. Russia has experienced a steep population decline since the Soviet collapse.

"The initiative is directed at improving the demographic situation in the region," said Morozov's spokeswoman, who declined to give her name in accordance with her office's policy.

Morozov has encouraged employers to give people the day off Wednesday, she said, although she denied that the goal was to make couples go home and have sex. Instead, she said, the authorities are organizing events to promote family values, including concerts, exhibitions and an "agit-train" that will travel around the region with gynecologists and psychologists dispensing advice. The term agit-train was used by the Bolsheviks to describe trains that traversed the countryside showing propaganda films.

Families who have children on June 12 will win "valuable prizes," the spokeswoman said. In June, one couple won a UAZ sport utility vehicle for having a Russia Day baby, and similar contests have been held since 2005.

Not everyone is enthused about the initiative. "This is evidently the pinnacle of Governor Morozov's creative thinking so far," one local, identified as Reksa, wrote in an Ulyanovsk web forum.

Ulyanovsk is best known as the birthplace of Vladimir Lenin.