Post-Soviet Sex

Mating for the motherland

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Russia is facing a dramatic population dip: During the next 10 years, the country's population is expected to shrink by 1 million annually. Scholars blame disease and poor health habits for this unsettling population loss. In response, at its annual camp about 200 miles from Moscow, the Russian youth movement Nashi ("Ours"), in addition to banning alcohol and promoting physical fitness, held mass weddings and led the newly betrothed to a special "Love Oasis" where they were expected to copulate, and thus procreate, for the motherland.

Kremlin-sponsored sex isn't the only activity occupying Nashi's time. The 100,000-member movement's followers have participated in violent counterprotests against pro-democracy demonstrations. Nashi also has harassed the British ambassador to Russia for meeting with opposition leaders, and defaced the Estonian embassy in response to Estonia's removal of a Soviet war memorial from its capital. The Russian police, ordinarily known for their speedy and harsh response to protesters, have stood by passively during the violent demonstrations.

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