Russia moves to legislate on marriages with dead servicemen

Cohabitation may be recognized as legal ground for women seeking official marriage certificates – and financial benefits – after the death of their KIA partners.

The State Duma, lower chamber of the Russian parliament, has registered a bill that would provide courts with the power to formalize relationships between men and women who had lived together outside the wedlock before the men got killed in action. 

The proposal, which is designed especially for women whose male partners lost their lives in the Ukrainian war, will “protect the legitimate interests of the members of the factual families of servicemen,” according to Pavel Krasneninnikov, chairman of the Duma committee for public housing legislation, and a co-author of the bill.

It would be up to courts to establish the facts regarding the intimate relationship, cohabitation, and shared husbandry responsibilities for couples who had not officialize their relationship ahead of the “special military operation” for various reasons. The couples must have lived at least three years together and be parents to a child, says the initiative, which does not specify whether child adoption qualify.

Cohabitation, although common in Russia, does not allow women to claim inheritance and financial benefits entitled to the formal families of soldiers, particularly widowed spouses and mothers.

The date of “marriage” in such cases will be considered the day when the man and woman started living together.

It is interesting to note that the unilateral marital status would transfer the debts and obligations assumed by their deceased husbands to the new wives, such as bank credits or private borrowings. There might be also some extra work for lawyers as sisters and mothers of the military killed in action will surely claim their shares or all the benefits.

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Dissatisfaction with the government’s financial obligations to the KIA servicemen in high in the Russian society because of unclear legal provisions regarding the men called under mobilization rules and volunteer fighters. Also thousands of families of missing soldiers are battling in courts with the military authorities over salary arrears and allocation benefits because officially they are not dead yet.

The military benefits range from 100,000 rubles in average salaries for privates to 1 million rubles (10,200 euros or 10,900 US dollars) for confirmed death as a result of combat on the frontline or limited armed operations. For many, this is the biggest money they have ever seen.  

Being in the military is currently the best paid employment for ordinary men in the Russian Federation.

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