Russia has a rich Soviet-era tradition of voluntary-compulsory weekend labor known as subbotnik, but it’s hard to imagine that Lenin could have predicted this tradition would be used to gather skulls and bones.
Authorities in the Urals region of Perm are inviting residents to clean up human remains, local media reported after a photograph of an invitation for this macabre subbotnik was posted online.
“May 6 is declared a subbotnik to clean up human remains on the riverside,” reads the announcement posted in Kryukovo village on the bank of the Kama River. “Bring gloves and bags.”
Local administration officials say these types of subbotnik are an annual tradition dating back at least 10 years.
Each spring, residents gather the remains from a Civil War mass grave and the village cemetery, says Vera Golovina, head of the district that oversees the village of 400.
“The shore is crumbling and the bones are washing away,” she was quoted by Perm’s 59.ru news website as saying.
“To keep them from drifting, we collect the bones before the water rises and rebury them in a common grave at the modern village cemetery.”