He might be known as a tyrannical tough-guy on the world stage, but Russian President Vladmir Putin seemed to enjoy spending today surrounded by dozens of children.
The 66-year-old ruthless despot was presenting the Order of Parental Glory to eight very large families from across the country, as a thank you for having several babies.
The annual ceremony, which takes place on the eve of International Children’s Day, saw the Russian leader heep praise on parents helping to fight the country’s declining population.
Putin, who has led the country for 20 years as President or Prime Minister, welcomed families from Moscow, St Petersburg, Sevastopol, the Republic of Altai, Kabardino-Balkaria, Sverdlovsk and Sakhalin regions to the Alexandrovsky Hall of the Kremlin Palace.
Speaking at the ceremony, Putin said: ‘This year this high government award was conferred on eight married couples. When families have as many children as you do, this is real happiness.
‘Please accept my sincere words of respect for your selfless, daily parenting.’
The purpose of International Children’s Day is to recognise activities that promote ‘the institution of the family and child-rearing and reverse the country’s falling population’.
UN projections show that Russia’s population is expected to fall from 144 million to 138 by 2035, although figures have stabilised in recent years. (DailyMail)