Russian funeral businesses are overcrowded and cemeteries across the country are expanding or new ones are being created due to the large number of people killed in the war in Ukraine, the Russian independent media writes. Veridica has also discovered an analysis about the failure of the so-called Gerasimov doctrine, which was supposed to make the Russian army a modern force capable of fighting a new type of war with hybrid elements
THE INSIDER: Loss and profit. Russian funeral industry breaks records amid war
Russian funeral business has seen unprecedented growth thanks to the government's efforts: at first help came in the form of the coronavirus policy (in 2021, in the absence of quarantine measures Russia had the highest daily Covid mortality rate in the world), and since 2022 Russia's foreign policy has helped a lot, especially in recent days: for example, the number of graves in the Wagner PMC cemetery in the Krasnodar region has increased seven times in just two months. Funeral workers promptly respond to “zeitgeist”: land plots in cemeteries are being designated as military burial grounds, special camouflage caskets are being utilized, and new military burial rites are being introduced. It is true that crematoriums have suffered from sanctions but import substitution has kicked in and new facilities are being opened at an unprecedented pace, The Insider writes.
“There’s no shortage of applicants for mortuary programs”
Scheduling an interview with Maxim Kolesov is difficult nowadays. “I can't do it today, unfortunately, work has piled up - three SMO (special military operation) fighters. It will take till night to repair the damage,” he writes. Maxim is an experienced mortician, that is, a master of cosmetic preparation of the deceased. After the start of the war, which he calls a “special operation,” Kolesov has been helping, on a voluntary basis, to send off its soldiers on their last journey: “I make my funeral hall in New Moscow available free of charge for memorial services. We don't charge for the restoration of the bodies either. People find out about us through word of mouth, they call us. Our services include meeting cargoes 200 with relatives at the airport, delivering them to the morgue, opening the caskets, helping with identification and burial. The deceased are not only Moscow-born, some of the bodies are being dispatched to other regions.”
Back in the day, soldiers killed in military conflicts were often buried in closed caskets. But in recent years, cosmetic preparation of bodies has become commonplace in Russia. Funeral ceremonies for soldiers killed in the current war are being conducted “in the best possible manner.” State burial benefits are often not enough to pay for such ceremonies, but some families take loans, and some get free help from Maxim Kolesov.
Sometimes, the face and hands of the deceased are assembled literally from pieces. Work on a complex case can take up to 12 hours. And the longer the war goes on, the harder it gets, Kolesov says: “At first it was mostly bullet wounds, often sniper wounds. Then there were large-caliber wounds. After that there were a lot of mortar and fragmentation wounds. And then came the aftermath of rocket attacks. HIMARS strikes mean a lot of small shrapnel, piercing everything in its path, like a colander or something”.
Boris Yakushin, the owner of the Novosibirsk crematorium and organizer of the annual funeral exhibition “Necropolis” says that in the first months of the war deceased soldiers returned in “surprisingly good” condition: “Washed, embalmed, with minimal stubble. One could see that the body had been taken care of.” […]
The number of casualties grew in summer, and the bodies began to arrive in poor condition. Now the condition has improved again. Perhaps the cold weather, in which corpses are better preserved, had an impact.
In any case, the demand for mortuary services in Russia is now growing. So is interest in the specialty. Dmitry Yevsikov, another authoritative specialist in the field of preparation of the deceased, says. […]
In May, the Novosibirsk crematorium plans to open a special military section of its columbarium with 500 niches.. And now, in the opinion of the crematorium owner Boris Yakushin, it's time to bring it to life: “Everything there will be in military style, even a cannon will be installed. We're not going to use the Z and V symbols in the design just yet, but we'll be offering them as one of the templates for the marble plaques. By fall, we'll know how much demand there is for it.” […]
In the summer of 2022, special military sections appeared in cemeteries in many regions of Russia. According to Yakushin, such initiatives often come from the Wagner PMC. In general, Evgeny Prigozhin is not a stranger to the subject of cemeteries. Since at least 2018, his military units have their own cemetery for mercenaries in Goryachy Klyuch, Krasnodar Krai. There is a chapel, two monuments to mercenaries and rows of columbaria with the coat of arms of Wagner PMC on each niche.
By December, there was no space left for burial near the chapel, and dead Wagner mercenaries were buried in Bakinskaya village, 18 kilometers from Goryachi Klyuch. Two fresh graves were discovered by local activists, and on December 21 the information was confirmed by Prigozhin's press service.
When a reporter from 93.RU visited the new cemetery three days later, she found 48 graves as more bodies kept coming in. Only one of those buried was a native of Krasnodar Krai, and most of them had criminal record based on court databases. “All the bodies are brought to Bakinskaya from Rostov-on-Don, but why exactly from there, no one knows, to be honest. The cemetery staff assume that “they just have bigger refrigerators there.” And it's close to the border,” the article says.
Thanks to Boris Yakushin, we know the reason: “Rostov-on-Don is a transshipment base for the deceased, bodies from the SMO zone are sent there. The military is responsible for sending them on home. But the workload is quite heavy. Therefore, I think that the new four-chamber crematorium, which is now being built in Rostov, will not remain idle for the next 2-3 years”.
NOVAYA GAZETA.EUROPE: Gerasimov has compromised his war
The new Russian army commander in Ukraine is the one who came up with ‘hybrid war’ strategy — and this fantasy lured Russia into a trap, Novaya Gazeta.eu writes.
Valery Gerasimov led the technical organization and commanded the direct military operation for the annexation of Crimea and Donbas, as well as the invasion of Syria. He was the one who gave orders to the units involved in the invasion, following the instructions of the top command. In May 2016, by a classified presidential decree, the general was awarded the title of Hero of Russia. The military commander is included in the sanctions lists of the EU and Canada.
The Bellingcat expert group named Gerasimov among those involved in the operation to deliver the Buk air defense system to the combat zone, which shot down the MH17 Malaysian Boeing in the sky over Donbas on July 17, 2014. In the list of suspects, the general’s name was next to the name of Defense Minister Shoigu.
Ukraine declared the general “the main ideologist of the war in the Donbas”. The Kyiv court arrested Gerasimov in absentia and put him on the wanted list. At the same time, Gerasimov often participates in international negotiations at the highest level.
On January 11, 2023, Sergey Shoigu appointed the general as commander of the joint group of forces in Ukraine, demoting his predecessor Sergey Surovikin to one of the deputies. The other two deputies of the commander of the joint forces were Army General Oleg Salyukov and Colonel-General Alexei Kim.
The Gerasimov doctrine
The troops say that for more than ten years it has been Valery Gerasimov who really leads the Russian army, while Shoigu, who has not served in the armed forces a single day, is only the official head of the Defense Ministry. At the same time, Gerasimov allegedly not only makes all the most important decisions in the department, but is also considered a real ideologist of the Russian Defense Ministry, who created an entire military doctrine. By the way, until recently, many Western experts echoed the Russian military in this, as they were convinced that Gerasimov had developed and was implementing the concept of a “new generation war” — the Russian response to the allegedly Western-inspired “orange revolutions” in Arab countries.
It is clear that it is impossible to find and read this doctrine in the public domain, but it can be “felt” by studying its public mentions.
In 2013, about a year before the annexation of Crimea, Valery Gerasimov spoke to members of the Russian Academy of Military Sciences. He repeated the idea popular in those years that the collective West unleashes hybrid wars, one of whose targets is Russia. A little later, the Chief of the General Staff published a detailed article in the Military-Industrial Courier newspaper, dubbed “The value of science in foresight”. The article was devoted to this issue. It argued that the opponents are conducting an aggressive policy against the Russian Federation in the form of color revolutions and other non-military methods of influence, and Russia needs to develop adequate response measures.
The general recalled the “Arab Spring”, arguing that the rules of war of the 21st century have changed significantly. “The role of non-military methods in achieving political and strategic goals has increased, which in some cases have significantly surpassed the power of weapons in their effectiveness. The current methods of confrontation are shifting towards the widespread use of political, economic, informational, humanitarian and other non-military measures, implemented with the use of the protest potential of the population. All this is complemented by covert military measures, including the implementation of information warfare measures and the actions of special forces. The open use of force is often applied under the guise of peacekeeping and crisis settlement only at a certain stage, mainly to achieve final success in the conflict.”
Gerasimov wrote that “frontal clashes of large groups of troops at the strategic and operational level are gradually becoming a thing of the past. Remote non-contact impact on the enemy becomes the main way to achieve the goals of combat and operation. The defeat of its objects is carried out to the entire depth of the territory… The use of high-precision weapons is becoming widespread. Weapons based on new physical principles and robotic systems are being actively introduced into military affairs.”
In his article, the army general argued that modern warfare involves only the targeted use of special operation forces and a stake in internal opposition, on the creation of a permanent internal front throughout the enemy’s territory, as well as the impact of information, the forms and methods of which are constantly being improved.
Western experts noticed Gerasimov’s article and began discussing Russia’s likely preparation for such a “hybrid war”, when, instead of cumbersome formations of the armed forces, the stake will be placed on collaborators and traitors from among the local elites, acting with the support of small groups of professional special forces against the background of massive propaganda among the local population.
A year later, Crimea happened.
Things didn’t go according to plan
Activist Sergey Krivenko emphasizes that the only real operation carried out following the Gerasimov concept was the seizure of Crimea by unmarked servicemen. However, this success was misinterpreted in Russia, where everyone, including the Kremlin, believed that now the entire Russian army is capable of conducting similar operations. Only a few well-trained units operated in Crimea, and it was not worth extrapolating their characteristics to the entire army — now it has become clear to everyone.
And now Western experts doubt whether it was not a hasty conclusion that Russia is really ready to use the methods of war outlined in Gerasimov’s concept. That this, roughly speaking, is not a fantasy on a military theme. So, a political scientist, and senior researcher at the Institute of International Relations in Prague, Mark Galeotti, in a column for Foreign Policy, said that he himself invented the term “the Gerasimov doctrine” — to draw attention to the translation of the Russian general’s article published on his blog. “This doctrine does not exist,” Galeotti said. “And the more we convince ourselves of its existence, the longer we won’t understand how to respond to the real problems that Russia throws at us.”
According to Galeotti, “the annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbas created the illusion that Russia is actually using the methods described in the Gerasimov concept. In both cases, “Russian bandits”, adventurers and special forces participated in the events. All this was seasoned with sinister Russian propaganda, and the West was convinced that the Gerasimov doctrine really exists.” For this reason, the researcher believes, the Kremlin’s activities are dangerous: they do not have a clear program. “Moscow has a large-scale political task — to distract, divide and demoralize [the enemy], but otherwise,” the political scientist explains, “the actions of the Russian Federation do not fit into a single concept, sometimes they even contradict each other.”
Experts agree that realizing that the doctrine did not work, Gerasimov put it aside and began to act according to military textbooks of the mid-twentieth century. As a result, Russia is firmly mired in the bloody and increasingly costly Ukrainian conflict. […]