If there was ever a situation to illustrate the bleak economic and cultural status of the Russian populace, this is it. According to reports, a massive and violent squabble broke out in a Russian cemetery that swelled to involve several hundred people, over 90 of whom were arrested and 2 of whom were killed. The skirmish was a horrible frenzy – one for the history books, to be sure.
While no one really knows who threw the first blow, the violence became increasingly savage as comrades fought against comrades wielding shovels, rake handles, steel bars and baseball bats. At some point the melee became a firefight, when guns were pulled and shots fired. A car, loaded with pistol wielding combatants, tried to flee the mad scene – consequently running several people over and killing 2 of them. 23 were taken to the hospital when all was said and done.
It is not totally clear what sparked the necropolis hostility, but it is believed that the argument started over jobs. More specifically: it began because of a territorial dispute over who gets to bury dead Russians where, within the sprawling 500-acre Khovanskoye cemetery in southwest Moscow. It was perhaps the first turf war of its kind.
This strange conflict brings to light one of Russia’s most serious problems: the economic crisis. Since 2014 the Russian currency has collapsed, salaries have plunged, and domestic demand has been steadily waning. Times are tough in the motherland. Despite all of this, unemployment rates have remained stable over the last few years – even dwindling to the lowest ever. How is that possible? Government agencies have strongly encouraged employers not to cut employee numbers (for fear that it will make them look economically weak amongst the international community), so instead employers have cut salaries. This has created a growing problem of underemployment, where workers are being paid part-time wages, are cut back to part-time hours, or put on unpaid leave status – causing workers to become very protective of the jobs they can manage to get. So protective, it seems to be stirring up dangerous unrest over employment territory.
The number of arrests made after the incident have soared well into the 90’s (the three armed occupants of the murder vehicle amongst those). The RIA news agency stated that the two groups involved were people of Russia’s North Caucasus and migrants from ex-Soviet Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Migrants have suffered the most from Russia’s economic slump – finding a good paying job as a Russian migrant is an arduous and often impossible task. Perhaps we’ll see more violent disputes of this nature as Russia’s economic situation continues to decay… But I doubt it. The great cemetery skirmish of 2016 is probably going down in history as an isolated and strange manifestation of hard times in Russia.
Source: http://sputniknews.com/russia/20160514/1039616987/moscow-cemetery-brawl.html, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9NoKd2QN2w, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36293547, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/14/three-killed-moscow-cemetery-brawl