Love and marriage in Russia

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MARCO WERMAN: I'm Marco Werman and this is the world. Finding your mate in Russia is apparently not easy if population figures are any indication. It seems that families are declining in Russia and the trend has come to the attention of the Kremlin. The government is trying to encourage large families by bestowing the order of parental glory. It even comes with a cash prize. We checked in with reporter Jessica Golloher in Moscow. If the results of her informal poll are correct the problem isn't a lack of financial incentive the problem is Russian men.

JESSICA GOLLOHER: Men are always a hot topic among girl friends here in Moscow. Who's got one, who wants one, and often who wants to get rid of one. There are also a lot of stereotypes about Russian men and women when it comes to dating. So I decided to ask some friends over for a little food and drink. It didn't take long to get an earful.

NATASHA KURKCHI: My last date in Moscow? Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh. Ages ago. Maybe a year ago but again not with a Russian.

GOLLOHER: Meet 30-year-old Natasha Kurkchi. Her excuse?

KURKCHI: Moscow is a very busy and rushed city where a lot of people are mostly thinking about like making money or going to the cool places instead of actually meeting someone they really like.

GOLLOHER: The small business owner of a high-end consulting firm Kurkchi goes on to say that finding a candidate for marriage is even harder. The latest statistics from the state show that Russian men aren't taking care of themselves. There's rampant alcoholism; tobacco is everywhere; and the number of AIDS cases is increasing. These environmental factors mean the average Russian male only lives to be about 58 years old � 18 years fewer then western Europeans. Anna Boguslavskaya is an architect. She says it hasn't been easy for her to date in Russia.

ANNA BOGUSLAVSKAYA: It's a bit hard for me because I'm stuck in the middle. I'm not a typical Russian anymore but I'm not European. So like I learnt how to pay for myself but I mean it's still about� How to say? That you should feel like a woman that the man always take responsibility for you. You should feel that you are� Yeah like he should take care of you.

GOLLOHER: Twenty-five-year-old Boguslavskaya says she learned a lot about marriage and values from her mother and father.

BOGUSLAVSKAYA: My mother said that a woman should get married 22, 23 and to give birth to a first baby at the age of 25 maybe 27. She thinks that at the age of 30, 33 it's way too late.

GOLLOHER: And a lot of women are waiting. Demographers warn that Russia's population could fall from 142 million to 110 million by the year 2050 that's why Kurkchi thinks it's a good idea for the government to reward families who have a lot of children. The parental glory medal comes with an award of about $1150 for parents who have more than one child. That's more money than some Russians make in a month.

KURKCHI: That's a good thing. You're growing your population. It's a good thing.

GOLLOHER: When 35-year-old Irina Lamtsova was asked whether she was going to run off, get married, and grow the population she rolled her eyes, smiled, and had this to say.

IRINA LAMTSOVA: I don't want to get married just to get married. I want to meet some man who will be partner and my lover and everything. It's not to put stamp in my passport.

GOLLOHER: Boguslavskaya agrees and says that she's in no hurry to tie the knot. She says she'll only do it when the time is right.

BOGUSLAVSKAYA: It's never too late. At which age I should look back and say oh I never met this person and I won't meet him. But I can meet him at 71 because there are a lot of cute old people who are so lovely.

GOLLOHER: But marriage at 71 probably won't mean a parental glory medal from the state. For The World I'm Jessica Golloher in Moscow.