Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Putin’s War Driving Up Cost of Funerals in Russia

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 31 – Putin’s expanded war in Ukraine has sent prices for a wide variety of goods and services up dramatically, but one of the sectors where such inflation has hit hardest is the funerary one The costs of funerals in Russia have risen by as much as 1.5 times or even more in some regions since February 2022.

            In reporting these, Important Stories journalist Lena Lemyasova says that the situation is now so bad that grieving families say they now must spend as much on the funerals of their loved ones as they do on weddings (

            She reports that the average cost of funerals in Russia in 2023 was 54,900 rubles (540 US dollars), up by 16 percent from a year earlier, the government acknowledges. In Leningrad, the cost rose by 31 percent and in Yamalo-Nenets by 54 percent. Significantly, costs have risen for all parts of a funeral and not just one or a few. But the real rise is far greater.

            In the funeral industry, one expert speaking on conditions of anonymity says, costs have risen because of overall inflation and because changes in the ruble exchange rate mean that caskets have increased in price because domestic components have become more expensive than foreign ones, especially in crematoria, that are no longer available because of sanctions.

            But prices have also gone up in some places because local funeral operators have established monopolies and used the power of that position to boost prices and profits beyond what the cost of components justified. The government has fought back in a few places but far from all.

            The expert with whom Lemyasova spoke says that the real price increases are far higher than Russian government officials are reporting. In the funerary industry, many of the firms involved are small and do not report to the government about their prices and so what many are charging is never recorded.

            But he continues, the primary cause for price increases is the war in Ukraine. Not only has that boosted demand for funeral services and restricted access to foreign components, but it has made funerals a more important part of life, something many Russians do not feel they can skimp on even if costs are up.

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