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While Russians were quite “collectivised” during times, a strange inversion occured at death. Unlike the American cemeteries that are just fields with tomb stones, Russian cemeteries have typically been subdivided into small fenced plots, privatelly tended by the relatives of the deceased (or allowed to grow over with grass if they had none). They are thus the exact opposite of what one might expect “communist” cemeteries to look like.

It makes you wonder if this expresses some deep desire to have – at least in death – a private plot of land. It more likely has to do with the habit of “visiting” relatives. It is customary to “visit” dead relatives as if they were still alive. People usually bring some food and have a small snack at “grandpa’s place”, hence the need for a small table inside the fenced area. Some of the food is then left on the grave, not as an “offering” but simply as way of including the dead in the meal.

In death as in life, the Russians are becoming increasingly unequal. Some tombs are decorated by marble stones of increasing size. Others are still marked by a simple steel boxes.