US & World

Russian cemetery gang leaves widow with body out in cold

A Russian graveyardImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption A gang has allegedly taken control of a Russian graveyard (not pictured)

The body of a man was left lying in an open coffin outside a regional parliament in southern Russia after his widow was allegedly confronted by a gang at the local cemetery.

A video of her protest in Samara was tweeted by a local MP, Azat Tuimasov, who urged the city’s governor to act.

Mr Tuimasov says he went with the woman to bury the coffin, but at the cemetery about 30 men prevented them doing so.

The woman said the gang had demanded 50,000 roubles (£585; $762) from her.

“But I’m a single mother. How can I get that kind of money?” the widow of Valery Maleyev asked Russia’s Ren TV.

Mr Tuimasov’s video shows the widow standing in a group by the open coffin at night, outside the parliament building in Samara.

Russian media report that her deceased husband was later moved to a morgue, and that she was offered a burial plot in a nearby village.

Mr Tuimasov’s tweet had an angry message for governor Dmitry Azarov.

“We haven’t seen any desire on your part to help people,” he wrote. “The result is this coffin with an unburied corpse.

“It’s standing by the white house [parliament] awaiting your decision which, apparently, is not going to come. Your subordinates are lying to you and you believe them.”

Later, Governor Azarov ordered his anti-corruption officials to take “tough action” over the incident. In a tweet, he said he would make “all information” about the case public.

‘Gangster types turned up’

Speaking to the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily, Mr Tuimasov said “there is a real monopoly operating at Rubezhnoye cemetery – only one firm does burials there”.

Mr Tuimasov alleged about “30 gangster-types” turned up after “municipal workers showed us the burial plot”.

“They surrounded the burial plot and prevented us from digging. They stood on the gravediggers’ spades and crowbars. So we couldn’t dig the grave.”

Russia’s Vesti TV news programme reported another case of alleged funeral extortion, this time at a cemetery in Izhevsk, a city in the Urals region north of Samara.

Police in Izhevsk arrested the manager of a cemetery, suspected of bribe-taking, along with the city’s chief cemetery administrator and two officials linked to them. Large sums of cash were found by police at their premises, Vesti reported.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-47331764

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