Following numerous complaints filed by Muscovites about overpriced services provided by State Unitary Enterprise Ritual, a municipally-owned burial services company and monopoly owner of Moscow’s cemeteries, the Federal Antimonopoly Service had to look into the situation. Besides, Ritual had planned to hike the cost of services, which are widely considered quite costly, as of August 1, 2007.
Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov strongly objected to the plan. Still, common folks pay a lot more for burying their loved ones, compared to the official cost of dying Luzhkov was fuming about. For instance, a spot at a cemetery located outside the city limits could cost around 400,000 rubles, reports Novye Izvestia.
Luzhkov resented Ritual’s plans to increase the cost of cremation to 3,763 rubles; the cost for a new grave would go up to 10,993 rubles and a burial in a family gave would cost 12,312 rubles. However, the real cost of funeral services is at least 10 times higher than the official prices mentioned above.
Relatives of a deceased person have to pay for everything that has to do with a funeral. Services provided by a morgue cost from 6,000 to 9,000 rubles. Obtaining a plot at a cemetery is the costliest part. Those who have a family place in the cemetery are somewhat “lucky” because they do not have to worry about buying a new plot. According to official statistics, funeral services providers have already stopped burying the dead in cemeteries located in Moscow and nearby. The only exceptions are made in case the city officials consent to a new burial and a huge sum of money is paid for a plot.
According to sources cited by Novye Izvestia, a spot for grave at the Ostanskinskoye cemetery costs 600,000 rubles. City Hall permission is required for obtaining a spot at another prestigious cemetery, Vagankovskoye. A “higher-up” should call the administration of the cemetery before any arrangements are made. The newspaper does not say how much this kind of call could cost.
“Forget it. First off, I need a go-ahead from the superiors, and then you’re supposed to pay 300,000 rubles to a cashier,” answered a director of the Preobrazhenskoye cemetery when asked by Novye Izvestia about any possibility of a burial without getting permission from those in highest command beforehand.
As regard burial space outside the city limits, the situation is far from being any better. The cost of a plot at Nikolo-Arkhangekskoye cemetery ranges from 60,000 to 400,000 rubles. The same cost applies to the Khimkinskoye cemetery. “You’ll get a lousy spot for your 100,000. They’ll dig a grave in a marshy area, the former site of a dump. The place has no drainage so it’s waterlogged even during the winter,” said an employee at the cemetery. “A more or less decent spot” could go for around 400 rubles.
In the meantime, spokespersons for the cemeteries located not only in Moscow but in other regions of Russia plainly deny any wrongdoing when told about the outrageous cost of spots for graves. They claim charges fully comply with the official pricelist.
Experts have recently begun arguing that the transfer of funeral services to private companies could pull the plug on the state-controlled lawlessness at the Russian cemeteries. However, Muscovites are unlikely to see any changes for the better. Speaking to Novye Izvestia, Vladimir Kandrashin, a deputy chief of the department for coordination and organization of work of burial cervices companies at Moscow City Hall, confirmed that all land for cemeteries is state-owned, and therefore privately-run cemeteries are out of the question. Besides, the Moscow Duma recently passed amendments to the law “On interment and funeral services” in the first reading. In accordance with the document, State Unitary Enterprise Ritual shall have the exclusive and complete control of all issues relating to funeral services in the city cemeteries.
Translated by Guerman Grachev
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