The Moscow Times has a story about genealogy research in Russia. For decades, the communist government actively discouraged the researching one's family tree. With the communists now removed from power, genealogy again is becoming popular. The Institute for Public Relations in Moscow is helping Russians and overseas Russian descendants trace their ancestry.
Most Russians who dig into their family history learn that their ancestors were peasants who lived in the same village for centuries. A few may find minor nobility and others of note.
"It has become fashionable to know who your ancestors were," said Sergei Kotelnikov, who runs the All-Russian Genealogical Tree web site at http://www.vgd.ru. "It raises your social status, and it doesn't matter if your ancestors were peasants or nobles; it's the number of known generations."
It is nearly impossible to trace family roots in Ukraine, Belarus, and parts of western Russia, such as the Smolensk region, because so many archives were destroyed in the Revolution, the Civil War and the two world wars.
Ancestors lost in World War II are particularly hard to track down, but amateur researchers tracing their own families have found an additional source of information. Visitors to the All-Russian Genealogical Tree's online forum have been photographing gravestones in their hometowns and posting the pictures online, Kotelnikov said.
You can read more about this story on the Moscow Times' web site at http://www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2006/08/15/002.html.