The government is trying to encourage Russian women to have more children, in order to reverse a population decline. Bad habits (too much booze, poor diet, not enough exercise) has caused life expectancy for men to continually decline over the last two decades (this began before the Cold War ended). At the same time, women, discouraged by bad economic conditions, had fewer children. The new cash bonus, and other benefits, offered to women to have more children is not, apparently, working.
If present trends continue, the population of Russia will decline from 143 million to 100 million by 2050. Not only that, but by 2050, most of the population may be Moslem. Currently, about 15 percent of Russians are Moslem, and the average Moslem family has three or more children, while the average non-Moslem family has one or two. While Christian (largely Slavic) Russians have seen their numbers tumble, the Moslem population of Russia has grown over 40 percent since 1989 (from births, migration and conversions). There has also been a religious revival, with the number of mosques growing from under a thousand when the Soviet Union collapsed, to over 8,000 today. That means Moslem men drink a lot less, and live healthier, and longer, lives.
In addition to a higher birth rate, the number of Moslems will increase because of migration. A falling birth rate among the Slavic population will create an enormous labor shortage, and the closest source of additional labor is poor, over populated, Moslem nations.
The 70 years of communist rule was very damaging and demoralizing to most Russians, as it was to other nations that endured less of it in Eastern Europe. Prosperity and democracy have arrived in a fitful and threadbare state. Things are getting better, but that usually means that women have fewer children. It's been that way for thousands of years. The aristocrats were notorious for having small families, and the main reason was that the wealthy wives had better, and less arduous, things to do than pregnancy and child rearing. Because of that, Russia will probably have a larger Moslem minority by 2050, but not a majority, because even Moslem women have fewer children as they become educated and more affluent.
May 20, 2006: Russia and Kazakhstan have agreed to cooperate in developing Kazakhstan natural gas deposits. The deal involves Russia selling lots of military equipment to Kazakhstan, and reduction of customs taxes between the two countries. Kazakhstan is run by an old style dictator who needs a large, friendly and understanding neighbor.
May 17, 2006: In southern Russia, a car bomb went off in Ingushetia, killing a local police commander who had long been the target of assassination by local gangsters. In neighboring Chechnya, terrorists ambushed an army convoy, and killed five soldiers. That's more than in all of April, when only three Russian soldiers died fighting the few remaining Chechen rebels and Islamic terrorists. The Chechen police are doing most of the fighting, and dying, in Chechnya.
May 16, 2006: In Dagestan (southern Russia, next to Chechnya), police commandos cornered a local Islamic terrorist leader, but he apparently killed himself and one of his associates, rather than be taken alive. Three policemen were wounded. A plan, to seize a local school, was found on one of the dead terrorists, and explosives were found hidden in the school.
May 8, 2006: Military procurement is going up 20 percent this year, to over $11 billion. Most of the increase is for nuclear weapons (upgrades and new systems) and equipment for rapid reaction forces.