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We toured Ekaterinburg. After peristroika, when anarchy ruled while the new Russian republic formed, Ekaterinburg was nicknamed Russia's Chicago. Gangsters killed each other in turf wars. We visited a graveyard that serves as a burial ground for Russian mafioso. It sounds macabre, but Russian graveyards make interesting tourist attractions. Russians typically decorate tombstones with pictures of the dead. The Mafia took this tradition one step better with lifesized pictures of the deceased in macho poses. These images are superimposed on the granite tombstones - the ghoulish effect makes a lasting impression. We visited another cemetery that was more solemn - a mass gravesite of gulag victims. An estimated 20,000 people were buried in mass graves during Stalin's Great purges in the '30s. A construction crew discovered the gravesite after the fall of the USSR. The KGB released records so the names of all victims could be written on a memorial erected at the site. The memorial stands as a reminder of Stalin's madness.
The mafioso above, an Russian Orthodox Christian, holds a Mercedes key in his hand, a symbol of wealth. The mafioso below, from a rival Muslim gang, wanted to look cooly casual.
Normal Russians also decorate their tombs lavishly. This person loved to sit with his dog. We didn't see any mention of his wife.
Not everything in Ekaterinburg is about graveyards. Beautiful houses and churches stand here. This cabin is an interesting combination between Siberian and Orthodox church influences.