With the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, mafias all over Russia were free from communist law limiting their criminal activities, meaning they embarked on a series of crimes that made them incredibly rich. The 90s are known as the most successful time for Russian gangsters and this is exemplified by the tombstones of those who lived high and ruled with loaded guns during this time.
In Yekaterinburg, Russia, there is a cemetery dedicated to the Russian Mafia, filled with expensive marble tombstones. Large headstones with depictions of the deceased are a normal tradition that started in the 1970s in Eastern European countries, but these gangsters are taking it to the next level by not only having statues of themselves on the tombstone, but also statues of the cars they drove during their “reign”.
The reason why these tombstones are made besides being very wealthy is to represent their wealth and power even after death. All portraits and statues are made to the exact height and width of the deceased, paying attention to the smallest details of the face. The Shirokorechenskoe Cemetery really shows the true power and cruelty behind the Russian Mafia.
Along with having their names and even nicknames carved into the marble tombstones, they would also either have a little message to their enemies or their expertise in the world of crime like being a great marksman or very skilled with a knife. Most tombstones depict the deceased in a very thoughtful pose, showing that even after death they will not let their guard down, nor their hatred for their enemies.
An interesting story behind these tombstones is that of son Andrei and father Nikolai Kravtov who were shot in 1996. One day father and son were pursuing their criminal cases when, out of nowhere, they were attacked by a family rival mafia and slaughtered. in the Volvo depicted on the tombstone.
Early death is quite common in the Russian Mafia and death itself is not taboo. Most gangsters know they won’t live to see themselves with gray hair and even if they do, it will be a stressful life waiting for the enemy around the corner to fire the last shot. Besides all the crime and opulence, Russian gangsters can be quite religious, respect ceremonial traditions and also the dead, whether friend or foe.
The larger and more spacious the tombstone, the more the deceased tries to represent the power she had in her life. The cross commonly seen on the corner of the headstones of most Russian mobsters is actually a Russian Orthodox Christian cross which again emphasizes that some of these criminals, despite their sins, were religious.
Besides religion and cars, family was the most important thing for Russian gangsters and also their greatest weakness as they could always be targeted. Most of the gangsters pictured above and located in the notorious Shirokorechenskoe died under threat from rival mafias or other criminal organizations.
The cemetery itself is increasingly becoming a tourist attraction because for the Western world such gravestones are out of this world. If you even visit an Eastern European country, take a walk through their cemeteries.