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The Pharaohs Of Our Time: Russia’s Gangster Graveyards Depicting Important Belongings Through Life

When you want to be remembered for eternity…

Photo: Amos Chapple/RFE/RL

In Yekaterinburg, a gangland tradition of tombstones featuring bling, booze and cars has gone mainstream. Imagine being so powerful through your life that you want that power to reflect for eternity? Wait, this is nothing new, from Egyptian pyramids that marked pharaohs life to all other powerful men that wanted to be remembered for eternity. Thanks to Photographer Amos Chapple this unique Slavic tradition has been now noticed and will become a part of history.

Naturally powerful gopniks, gang members, bosses but also influential neighborhood guys also love the idea of being remembered, thus the incredible tradition of picturesque tombstones has arisen, lo and behold, they depict what they were remembered for. Just like Vikings were buried with their swords and marks from their famous raids, these guys also show their meaningful things like their cars (Lada, Moskvich), their best clothing or any other display of power or their influence

Photo: Amos Chapple/RFE/RL

Two members of the Uralmash gang, who died in a shootout in the 90s, depicted on a tombstone in the north of Yekaterinburg.

Photo: Amos Chapple/RFE/RL

The graveyard is in a suburb that was largely controlled by Uralmash, one of two gangs that terrorised the central Russian city in the 1990s.

Photo: Amos Chapple/RFE/RL

At the other end of town is the gravestone of Mikhail Kuchin, reputed former leader of the Central Mafia gang, with Mercedes keys in hand. Uralmash and the Central Mafia were once bitter enemies and fought turf wars.

Photo: Amos Chapple/RFE/RL

The tradition of flaunting wealth in full-length tombstone portraits reportedly began with the gypsy community in Yekaterinburg.

Photo: Amos Chapple/RFE/RL

Owned by very few in the Soviet Union, foreign cars became status symbols after its collapse in 1991. This man is pictured with his Toyota.

Photo: Amos Chapple/RFE/RL

Expensive leather jackets were another form of bling in Russia’s wild 90s.

Photo: Amos Chapple/RFE/RL

Some of the life-size tombstones show a devotion to the church.

Photo: Amos Chapple/RFE/RL

But more often they emphasize the dead man’s wealth, and taste for the good life.

Photo: Amos Chapple/RFE/RL

While mafia warfare has largely ceased in the city, the style of full-length, blinged out portraits, that started with the gypsy community, and was taken up by gangsters, has now caught on…

Photo: Amos Chapple/RFE/RL

with regular locals.

Photo: Amos Chapple/RFE/RL

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