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'Shadow' funerals estimated at 60% of Russia's ceremonial services market

November 20, 2013, 16:17 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Union of funeral organizations and crematoriums: the number of companies involved in the illegal funeral business has been growing.

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© ITAR-TASS/Pavel Smertin

MOSCOW, November 20, /ITAR-TASS/. The share of the shadow funeral market in Russia has grown to 60 percent; in Moscow alone the revenues from the illegal funeral business were estimated at 80 - 200 billion rubles, Vice-president of the union of funeral organizations and crematoriums (SPOK) Aleksei Suloyev said at a press conference in Moscow on Wednesday.

"The number of companies involved in the illegal funeral business has been growing. The shadow market of the funeral services on the overall territory of Russia has grown to 60 percent, which has affected the low income population for whom the number of free funeral services were curtailed," Suloyev said.

In comparison, four years ago the shadow funeral market accounted for 30 percent of the overall funeral market, Suloyev said. Corruption among authorized officials who leak information about people's deaths is the main factor which accounts for the spread of the illegal funeral business, he said

The dealers in the shadow business buy information about people’s deaths from authorized representatives - either a doctor or a local precinct police inspector. At present, such a call put through to a shadow dealer costs 20,000 rubles.

“Over the past year we have been registering information leaks not only about home deaths, but about deaths at medical establishments as well", Suloyev said. Since 2002 a tendency of buying information about deceased people has increasingly expanded,” Suloyev added.

Vice-president of the Consumers' Union of the Russian Federation and member of the Russian Public Chamber Vladimir Slepak has called on the Construction Ministry and the Ministry of Public Utilities to adopt a single standard of the quality of the funeral services, taking into account international experience and recommendations given by public organizations and professionals.

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