Fleeting Wonders: Cemetery WiFi in Moscow - Atlas Obscura
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Fleeting Wonders: Cemetery WiFi in Moscow

Picnickers in a cemetery in Petrograd in 1919. Hanging out in graveyards is a Russian tradition.

Picnickers in a cemetery in Petrograd in 1919. Hanging out in graveyards is a Russian tradition. (Photo: Keystone View Company/Library of Congress Public Domain)

Would it kill you to check your email? If so, maybe do it in the Russian capital. Moscow City Hall announced today that, starting next year, you’ll be able to surf the web at the city’s three largest cemeteries. The city will also set up special spots among the gravestones for visitors to “unwind,” said Artyom Yekimov, a member of a state-owned funeral director’s company who is involved in the project. 

In Russia, chillin’ in cemeteries is a storied tradition–only the Netflix is new. Graveyards have long been popular spots for memorial feasts and celebrations (which isn’t so strange, as many are lovely, green, and full of statues of cosmonauts). Officials hope that the ability to stay connected will encourage the public, especially younger generations, to continue with important traditions like taking the bus, going to church, and picnicking on the graves of their ancestors.

A columbarium at Novodevichy Cemetery, one of the largest in Moscow. Soon you'll be able to livetweet the urns.

A columbarium at Novodevichy Cemetery, one of the largest in Moscow. Soon you’ll be able to livetweet the urns. (Photo: Ghirlandajo/WikiCommons CC BY 3.0)

This is the latest step in a longer, multi-pronged campaign to bring the Internet to public spaces in Moscow. Earlier this year, authorities began setting up hotspots at bus stops, along with special ”navigation tables” in the city’s center.

Several religious organizations, including the Russian Orthodox Church and the Council of Russia’s Muftis, are working on providing free “clean internet” in and around Moscow’s places of worship. (Despite the automatic filtering, this sanitized internet “will have lots of things, including normal movies,” promised Roman Bagdasarov, head of the Orthodox Church PR team.)

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