Deceased Russian soldier's family uses compensation payment to buy new car 'in his memory'
On July 17, the state-owned television channel Russia-1 ran a story about Staff Sergeant Alexey Malov, a tank commander who died on the third day of the war in Ukraine. According to the report, Malov’s relatives have already spent the compensation money they received from the government for his death. “In memory of our son,” Malov’s father told reporters, the family bought “a brand new car.”
“The new Lada [car] was bought with what is popularly known as ‘coffin money,’ or, in official terms, a one-time benefit payment to the family of the deceased. According to his father, Alexey dreamed of a white car — and that’s what they bought. Their first trip will be to the cemetery,” journalist Sergey Zenin said in the report.
The website Smotrim.ru, which streams and publishes Russian state news programs, posted an edited version of the broadcast that didn’t include the story about Malov.
Sergey Malov’s death was reported in early March by Saratov regional governor Valery Radayev. According to the news outlet Fourth Estate, Malov served for nine years as a contract soldier in the 56th Guards Air Assault Regiment in Kamyshin, a city in the Volgograd region. His older brother is currently fighting in Ukraine as part of the same regiment.
Malov’s mother told journalists that she learned about her son’s death “bit by bit”:
They reported the official information to me, of course, but I didn’t understand any of the specifics. Later on, I managed to learn from the guys who served alongside him that he was critically injured while his tank column was moving. They were attacked from helicopters. He saved his commander. I don’t know if the [commander] survived, but I’ve been told he was badly burned. Alexey’s entire back was injured. But he was still alive. A nurse bandaged him up and brought him to the hospital. They say he asked them only to tell his wife and father. He was afraid of worrying me and afraid his brother would snap and try to avenge him. And he didn’t want that. But he didn’t make it to the hospital.
According to the car manufacturer’s site, the price of the model Malov’s family purchased starts at 698,000 rubles (about $12,000). The Russia-1 story didn’t specify how much money the family received in compensation for their son’s death, but according to Russian law, deceased soldiers’ relatives are entitled to a one-time payment and insurance coverage worth 7.4 million rubles (about $127,000). In March, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that victims’ families would be paid an additional five million rubles (about $86,000). Regional governments also issue families separate payments ranging from one million to three million rubles (approximately $17,000 to $51,000). In the Saratov region, where Malov’s family lives, families are compensated one million rubles.