Moscow Closes Lid on Private Cemeteries

Commercial graveyards run by private companies are unlikely to appear in Russia soon, as the country lacks a tradition and regulations for how to operate them once they are full, Moscow’s Trade and Services Department head Alexey Nemeryuk said on Wednesday.

A bill that might allow privately-run graveyards is currently being drawn up by the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS). The document is expected to be ready by January 1, 2013, but it is very unlikely that commercial cemeteries will emerge afterwards, Nemeryuk told a press conference hosted by RIA Novosti.
The main problem with private graveyards is that any parcel of land is a ‘finite resource’,” Nemeryuk said.

“Sooner or later, every graveyard runs out of space for new cemetery plots, and what then? Companies would go bankrupt and abandon the facilities they handled…The government would be forced to sort out these problems.”

“There are commercial graveyards in Germany, for instance, but the European countries have established traditions how to organize this business and what the role of the government should be,” he said, adding in his personal opinion its is quite unlikely it would be possible to organize the business “in a civilized manner” in Russia.

“Under no circumstances would there be private graveyards in “Old Moscow,” [prior to its forthcoming expansion],” he said. On July 1, Moscow acquired 150,000 hectares of neighboring land on its southwest borders, as part of an expansion plan for the capital ordered by then-President Dmitry Medvedev in 2011.
“There are 71 graveyards in ‘Old Moscow’ – their total area is 1,500 hectares, of them only two are operational; the others have run out of room,” he said, adding that in average about 120,000 dead are buried Moscow annually.

Following the expansion of Moscow’s territory, 62 new graveyards were added to the exciting ones. Of those new cemeteries 27 are managed by city structures and the other 35 by the municipality.
“The total area of these graveyards is 175 hectares; we could expand them by adding another 150 hectares to this territory. Considering the average mortality rate, this will be enough for the next seven years,” Nemeryuk said.

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