Image: Denis Tarasov
In 1997 the power of the Russian mafia was so great that Louis Freeh, the FBI’s then-director, cited it as a very real threat to U.S. national security. Indeed, Russian organized crime was so dominant at that time that in 1996 there were an estimated 8,000 mafia factions in the trans-continental country, with around half of all businesses said to be under their command.
Furthermore, their companies’ resultant income streams were so great that the illegal groups reportedly moved around $25 billion of laundered wealth around the globe. It seems only fitting, then, that people who lived their lives so far outside the social norm, and who made so much money, should continue to confound expectations in death by having the flashiest tombstones that roubles can buy.
And certainly, these are no ordinary headstones. Each granite or marble creation – stretching up to ten feet tall – is engraved with a detailed portrait of the deceased and a representation of their extravagant lifestyle.
In addition, it soon becomes clear from these monuments that material possessions like cars, alcohol collections and wardrobes are deemed representative of status and success.