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Selling Grandpa's Soviet War Medals For Cash

NOVAYA GAZETA (Russia)


MOSCOW - There was a market for Soviet war medals even before the Soviet Union itself faded into history. There were thieves and collectors. But the real boom came in the 1990s, just after the fall of the Soviet Union, when many veterans looking to make some extra cash were willing to part with their honors. One collector even recalled obtaining a prized medal in exchange for a bottle of vodka.

The trade in old war medals is still illegal, but the collectors explained that the police have been looking the other way for quite some time, and that in fact collectors are usually the first to help the police in the case of stolen medals. Stolen goods, they explained, never interest serious collectors. Many expressed their hope that buying and selling old war medals would become legal.

Often, the collectors says, they appreciated the medals and the actions they represent far more than the relatives who sell them. That, at least, was certainly confirmed by Novaya Gazeta's reporter, who met with a woman selling her grandfather's war medals, but had no idea what he had done to get them.

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