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'Sex day' to boost births
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09:41, September 13, 2007

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The governor of a central Russian province urged couples to skip work yesterday and make love instead.

And if a woman gives birth in exactly nine months time - on Russia's national day of June 12 - she will qualify for a prize.

"It's normally something for the home - a fridge or a television set," said Ulyanovsk Region spokeswoman Yelena Yakovleva. "It doesn't matter if it's a girl or a boy."

Regional governor Sergei Morozov told employers to contribute to a Kremlin campaign to boost the birth rate by giving couples the day off to have sex.

Russia wants to reverse a trend in which the population is shrinking by about 700,000 people a year as births fail to outpace a high death rate boosted by AIDS, alcoholism and suicide.

Prizes will extend equally to unwed women who produce children on the right day, though the biggest prizes will go to married couples. On Russia Day this year, a family won a jeep when their fourth baby was born.

This year a record 78 babies were born on June 12 at the main hospital in the regional capital of Ulyanovsk, beating the 2006 total of 26, said chief doctor Andrei Malykh.

"The scheme is working. People want the prizes," he said.

Source: China Daily/Agencies

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