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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

With Public and Private Sorrow, Dead Are Buried

Sveta Leonova was not at her mother’s funeral Friday. The 14-year-old ballet dancer was still in the hospital with a shattered leg and the burns she sustained on her arms when she tried frantically to douse the flames that consumed her mother after a bomb exploded in the Pushkin Square underpass Tuesday.

No one has told her that her mother is dead. But, her grandfather told a mourner at the funeral, she knows. "She feels it."

After the three-day mourning period traditional in Orthodox Christianity, Moscow began laying to rest the eight people killed in the blast, which has rattled a nation growing numb to violent death.

Click here to read our Special Report on the bombings.

The ceremonies were small and scattered, but the deaths have been met with a grief perhaps even more profound than that which accompanied the deaths of nearly 300 in bomb attacks a year ago.

The stories of the eight victims have been repeated over and over on television. The whole country knows of Olga Udalova, the 18-year-old journalist who was rushing to meet her boyfriend. He showed up 10 minutes late and was saved. Olga was buried Friday in a village outside Moscow.

On buses and trams, old women whisper sadly about the two visitors from the central region of Udmurtia — their bodies now headed home by truck.

Strangers talk about the man who died Thursday in the hospital and the one body burned beyond recognition and still unidentified. And about Sveta’s mother, Marina.

Inside the chapel at Vagankovskoye cemetery, her relatives and friends clutched sputtering candles and a small women’s choir sang funeral hymns.

The coffin was open, but the charred body was completely hidden under a white shroud. After the ceremony, mourners filed past and kissed the cloth over the dead woman’s lips.

Some officials have been quick to blame the blast on Chechen guerrillas, although investigators say they have not concluded whether it was a politically motivated attack.

At the funeral, mourners were in no mood to discuss politics. Anna Yakovlevna, who attended the burial with a daughter who dances in a youth ballet troupe with young Sveta, wanted to talk only of the virtues of the dead.

"They say you only speak well of the dead, but this woman was truly special. All the fine things you can say about somebody — that she was clever and caring and kind," she said.

"What a terrible tragedy this is," she sobbed.

The public sorrow may only add to Russia’s numbness, Yelena Shestopal, professor of political psychology at Moscow State University, told the weekly newspaper Vek.

"We are losing our ability to feel danger because we have already lived so long in war," she said. "We bury someone every day. Eight more dead and nearly 100 burned — horrible as this may sound — will not overwhelm people with shock." Click here to read our Special Report on the bombings.