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Conceived before August war2009-04-06 17:11
Georgia has experienced a baby boom. 2008 birth rate jumped 20%. They say it is Ilia II's merit who christened every third baby in a family. It is not clear yet what statistics will show 9 months after the fatal August.
Western media assert it was the Catholicos who caused "a demographic wonder" in Georgia. "The statistics of marriages and birth rate in Georgia are going up regardless of the war and the crisis. Recently a young man I know whose modest family budget was not a secret to me quite surprised me by saying they were expecting their third baby. He did not share my puzzlement and guessed the silent question answering with a happy smile on his face: "Never mind, where there are two plates of lobio, there will be another one, and the third child will be christened by Patriarch", - BBC reporter writes.
Reduction of Georgian population and its "ageing" started in the 1990s because of social and economic problems when the birth and death figures were equal in the country. According to the 1989 census 5.5 mln people lived in Georgia, in 2007 - 4.5 mln plus 160 thousand of Abkhazian residents and 70 thousand of South Ossetian residents. The scientists report that in case the tendency maintains and the outflow of people abroad does not decrease, by 2050 the population of Georgia will be 3 mln people only. The UN included Georgia in the list of 45 ageing countries: over 16% of the citizens are older than 65 of age.
And by the end of 2007 the Georgian Orthodox Church announced it was ready to provide for spiritual guardianship for part of newborns. "In case a family desires each third baby's godfather independently of the ethnicity will be Catholicos Patriarch", - the statement goes. The first christening was held on January 19 2008 in Saint Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi. Over 2000 babies have been baptized for two years. Apart from spiritual guardianship the church promised to assist materially by opening a special bank account for donations in favor of Patriarch's godchildren.
The state adopted a purpose-oriented program stipulating 1000 lari for every poor family having a baby. All these efforts eventually took effect. According to the Civil Register Agency of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia in 2008 the birth rate increased by 20% over 2006: in 2006 only 48 thousand babies were born while in 2008 - already 57 thousand, Financial Times Deutschland writes. With reference to Georgy Vashadze, the head of the agency, BBC pictures a more optimistic prospect: the birth rate growth was 39% for the same period. The number of marriages also went up by 72% in comparison with 2005.
Vashadze emphasized that the birth rate had gone up in spite of the global financial crisis and the August war and Patriarch's role was by no means insignificant here. Even professor Nata Kazakhashvili, director general of State Institute of Perinatal Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology named after K. Chachava believes that Ilia II's initiative was the main incentive for improvement of demography indexes.
According to Andrey Davidov, a Russian priest, the baby boom in Georgia initiated by the church means that Ilia "has an attentive attitude towards every baby that is born and enters the Church and that the Church in Georgia has great influence considering its appeal was so powerful", VZGLYAD reports. Well, probably the Russian church is less attentive to the demography issues. However the number of people born in Russia grew from 1 mln 610 thousand in 2007 to 1 mln 717.5 thousand in 2008.