Death Care and Funeral Business in Russia

The Moscow Funeral Guide gives a summary of the current developments concerning the death care and funeral business in Russia.

Funeral arrangement is a set process in Russia that involves both governmental and privately owned institutions. The outline of the funeral arrangement and the institutions performing the respective procedures in Moscow can be put into the following table.

Basic stages of funeral arrangement The necessary procedures Institutions performing the procedures

Informing the medical services and the police about the occurred death

Getting the pronouncement of death and the record of inspection

Ambulance, hospital staff, police

Transportation of the decedent

Transporting the body to a pathology department or forensic laboratory

Moscow Department of Health transportation service for decedents

Taking care of the body, preparing the body for visitation

Embalming, make-up, etc.

Pathology or forensic study laboratory

Death registration

Getting the medical death certificate

Pathology or forensic study laboratory

Getting the certified death certificate

Civil Status Registry Office

Choosing a cemetery plot

Buying a cemetery plot

Cemetery Administration

Arranging the funeral ceremony

Choosing the casket, floral decoration, ordering a hearse, minibus, arranging visitation or after-funeral reception

Funeral Home

Funeral arrangement in Russia is for the most part performed by numerous funeral homes. The services provided by the funeral homes in Russia are more limited if compared to those in Europe and the US. Namely, the funeral homes in Russia typically have no premises or equipment for keeping the decedents and thus do not offer the embalming or make-up services (these are performed by the pathology departments or forensic laboratories). The most frequent set of services provided by the funeral homes in Russia includes:

  • obtaining medical and certified death certificates and other required documents,
  • ordering a new cemetery plot or cremation,
  • accompanying the funeral procession on the day of funeral,
  • providing a variety of funeral products (casket, floral decoration, etc),
  • providing hearses and other automotive equipment,
  • providing pall bearers,
  • providing long-distance transportation by car,
  • organizing visitation, wake, after-funeral reception and commemoration services,
  • arranging repatriation to Russia and abroad.

Addressing a funeral home is not mandatory as almost all of the funeral arrangement procedures can be performed by the family, relatives or friends of the decedent. Moreover, the Russian legislation concerning funeral clearly states that the person in charge of funeral does not have to be related to the decedent by blood or marriage. However, in most cases the family opts for at least some services of a funeral home to simplify the whole procedure and make it more professional.

A typical Russian funeral usually starts in the morning with the relatives and friends gathering in the yard of a pathology or forensic department at the pre-scheduled time waiting for the medical attendants to place the decedent into the casket and carry the casket into a separate hall for a short visitation. The casket as well as some floral wreaths arrives in a hearse minibus equipped with a place for casket (at the rear part of it) several hours before the appointed time.

There are normally several visitations at pathology and forensic departments every day scheduled one after another starting from 9 a.m. till 3 p.m. (opening hours). After the visitation the casket is closed and loaded into the hearse minibus. The relatives and friends head for the cemetery or crematorium where the actual burial ceremony will take place. They can go either by the hearse minibus (up to 17 seats) or in their own cars.

All the formalities are handled at the cemetery or crematorium administration desk which is followed by the burial ceremony. After this the family and friends typically have an after-funeral reception which usually presupposes a formal seated full meal dinner with some of the traditional funeral reception specials.

If the decedent attended one of the churches or expressed his wish to do so the family arranges a funeral service at a certain church before the actual burial. In this case the decedent is transported to the church right after the viewing at the pathology or forensic department.

In case there are many people going to pay homage to the decedent, the visitation takes place in a separate hall equipped for visitation ceremonies. Some of the funeral homes possess their own visitation halls, others have to rent.

At present cremations comprise up 40-45% of all the burials in Russia’s big cities such as Moscow, St. Petersburg and Novosibirsk. The rural areas still have a high rate of traditional burials. There are three crematoria in Moscow all with the uniform price for cremation. The traditional burial is considered to be more expensive due to constant cemetery land shortage. Irrespective of the new territories allocated by the city government every 6 months this process fails to catch up with the yearly number of traditional burials.

The cemeteries within big cities normally fall into two categories, the former having land for new burials and the latter being closed for expanding. The closed cemeteries do not provide new land for burials but arrange burials at family plots.

According to the actual federal legislation all the cemeteries in Russia are state owned, there are no private graveyards. The burial plot cannot be bought and is given to one of the relatives on a perpetual leasehold basis. There are no yearly fees for the plot and the overall expenses are limited to the cemetery services on the day of funeral (the cost of preparation and performing the burial). It should be as well noted that as the cemetery administration needs to assess the scale of required work for each particular case there is no uniform cost for the cemetery services. As a rule, this fee is higher at closed cemeteries where the cemetery staff needs to cut trees and move the existing tombstones in order to dig a grave at a family plot. The urns with cremains can be either buried like caskets or placed in a columbarium.

The Russian legislation insures mandatory burial for every decedent and envisages the following benefits concerning the funeral procedure for all citizens of Russia:

  • funeral allowance,
  • funeral arrangement free of charge,
  • new cemetery plot free of charge.

The funeral allowance is paid by the employer if the decedent was officially employed, by the social security department if the decedent was unemployed and was not a retiree and by the Pension Fund if the decedent was a retiree.

Funeral enterprise RITUAL is one of Moscow’s leading undertaking businesses combining the function of funeral home with its own manufacture of funeral products (caskets, wreaths, crosses).

Realizing the high degree of responsibility and the delicate character of our job we are proud to help our client families through one of the most difficult life periods with our compassionate and professional service.

Starting from 2002 when the funeral business licensing was abolished in Russia the undertaking domain has experienced an influx of non-professional staff leading to quality deterioration in funeral services.

Irrespective of the general unfavorable state of the Russian funeral business the RITUAL funeral home succeeds in maintaining the high standard of service through staff education program with due regard to modern challenges faced by the funeral directors.

Basing its work on the Russian federal law “Concerning Burial and Funeral Business” the RITUAL funeral home offers funeral arrangement at minimum cost taking into consideration all the actual social benefits.

Feel free to contact us anytime if you need immediate assistance, or if you would like to get more information about our services.

Information desk: +7 (495) 642-28-83, +7 (495) 642-28-84

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