|Intro||Russian ethnographer, linguist and criminal|
|A.K.A.||Anatoly Yuryevich Moskvin|
|Is||Historian Local historian Linguist Criminal Journalist Ethnographer|
|Field||Crime Journalism Literature Social science|
|Birth||1 September 1966, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia|
Anatoly Yuryevich Moskvin (Russian: Анатолий Юрьевич Москвин; born 1 September 1966) is a Russian philologist, historian and linguist from Nizhny Novgorod who was arrested in 2011 after the mummified bodies of twenty-nine girls between the ages of three and fifteen were discovered in his apartment. After exhuming the bodies from local graveyards, Moskvin mummified the bodies himself before dressing and posing them around his home. Moskvin's parents, who shared the apartment with him, saw the mummies but mistook them for large dolls.
A psychiatric evaluation determined that Moskvin suffered from a form of paranoid schizophrenia. In May 2012, Moskvin was sentenced to court-ordered psychiatric evaluation and has since been held in a psychiatric hospital.
Vladimir Stravinskas, the head of the Investigative Committee of Russia for the Nizhny Novgorod region, called the case exceptional and unparalleled in modern forensics.
Personal life and education
Moskvin lived in Nizhny Novgorod, the fifth-largest city in Russia. Moskvin said he began wandering through cemeteries with friends when still a schoolboy. In particular, they visited the Krasnaya Etna Cemetery located in the Leninsky district of Nizhny Novgorod. In an article written shortly before his arrest, Moskvin attributed his interest in the dead to a childhood incident during which he witnessed a funeral procession for an eleven-year-old girl. Moskvin alleged that the participants forced him to kiss the dead girl's face, writing that "an adult pushed my face down to the waxy forehead of the girl in an embroidered cap, and there was nothing I could do but kiss her as ordered."
After graduating from the Philological faculty of Moscow State University Moskvin became well known in academic circles. His main areas of academic interests were Celtic history and folklore, as well as languages and linguistics. Moskvin had a deep interest in cemeteries, burial rituals, death, and the occult. He kept a personal library of over 60,000 books and documents, as well as a large doll collection. Fellow academics described him as both a genius and an eccentric.
As an adult, Moskvin led a secluded life. He never married or dated, preferring to live with his parents including his father, Yuri F. Moskvin. He abstained from drinking alcohol and smoking and is purportedly a virgin. In 2016, it was reported that Moskvin planned to marry a 25-year-old native of his hometown who attended his trial.
A former lecturer in Celtic studies at Nizhny Novgorod Linguistic University, Moskvin previously worked at the Institute of Foreign Languages. A philologist, linguist and polyglot who spoke thirteen languages, Moskvin wrote several books, papers and translations, all well-known in academic circles. Moskvin also occasionally worked as a journalist and regularly contributed to local newspapers and publications. Describing himself as a "necropolist", Moskvin was considered an expert on local cemeteries in the Nizhny Novgorod region.
In 2005, Oleg Riabov, a fellow academic and publisher, commissioned Moskvin to summarize and list the dead in more than 700 cemeteries in forty regions of the Nizhny Novgorod Oblast. Moskvin claimed that between 2005 and 2007, he had gone on foot to inspect 752 cemeteries across the region, walking up to 30 km (18.6 miles) a day. During these travels, he drank from puddles, spent nights in haystacks and at abandoned farms, or slept in the cemeteries themselves, even going so far as to spend a night in a coffin being prepared for a funeral. On his extensive travels, Moskin was sometimes questioned by police on the suspicion of vandalism and theft, but was never arrested or detained after stating his academic credentials and purpose. The work itself remains unpublished but has been described as "unique" and "priceless" by Alexei Yesin, the editor of Necrologies, a weekly paper to which Moskvin was a regular contributor. After Moskvin's arrest, Yesin stated that he was confident there had been a mistake and Moskvin would soon be exonerated. Later Yesin told the Associated Press that Moskvin was a loner who had "certain quirks" but who gave no indication that he was up to anything unusual.
Between 2006 and 2010, Moskvin worked as a freelance correspondent for the newspaper Nizhny Novgorod Worker, publishing articles twice a month. His father also sometimes wrote for the paper. During 2008, Moskvin wrote an extensive series of articles on the history of Nizhny Novgorod cemeteries that appeared in the paper.
Arrest and criminal proceedings
Moskvin was arrested on November 2, 2011 by police investigating a spate of grave desecrations in cemeteries in and around Nizhny Novgorod. Investigators from the Centre for Combating Extremism discovered the twenty-six bodies (initially reported as twenty-nine) in Moskvin's flat and garage. Video released by police shows the bodies seated on shelves and sofas in small rooms full of books, papers and general clutter. Although only twenty-six bodies were discovered in his home, Moskvin was suspected of desecrating as many as 150 graves after police found numerous grave accoutrements such as metal nameplates removed from headstones. Police also discovered instructions for making the "dolls", maps of cemeteries in the region, and a collection of photographs and videos depicting open graves and disinterred bodies, though none of this evidence could be conclusively connected to any of the bodies found in the apartment. According to the investigation, the bodies primarily came from cemeteries in the Nizhny Novgorod region, though some may have come from as far away as Moscow. Moskvin actively cooperated with investigators and claimed he made the dolls over the course of ten years. His parents, who were away for large portions of the year, were unaware of his activities.
Moskvin was charged under Article 244 of the Criminal Code for the desecration of graves and dead bodies, a charge which carried up to five years in prison. Originally Moskvin was also accused of having defaced the graves of Muslims, considered a hate crime, but this charge was later dropped.
After a psychiatric evaluation, it was determined that Moskvin suffered from a form of paranoid schizophrenia. In a hearing on 25 May 2012, the Leninsky District court of Nizhny Novgorod deemed Moskvin unfit to stand trial, releasing him from criminal liability. He was instead sentenced to "coercive medical measures". The prosecution was satisfied with the decision and did not appeal the verdict.
Moskvin was removed to a psychiatric clinic, with his stay to be reviewed regularly. In February 2013, a hearing approved an extension of his psychiatric treatment. His treatment was again extended April 2014, and yet again in July 2015. In 2014 a spokesman stated, "After three years of monitoring him in a psychiatric clinic, it is absolutely clear that Moskvin is not mentally fit for trial...He will therefore be kept for psychiatric treatment at the clinic." As of 2019, every request for the extension of Moskvin's treatment has been approved.
In an interview after his arrest, Moskvin stated he felt great sympathy for the dead children and thought that they could be brought back to life by either science or black magic. As an expert on Celtic culture, Moskvin learned that the ancient Druids slept on graves in order to communicate with spirits of their dead. He also studied the culture of the peoples of Siberia, in particular the ancient Yakuts, and discovered they had a similar practice for communicating with the dead. Moskvin began searching for obituaries of recently deceased children. When he found an obituary that "spoke" to him, he would sleep on the child's grave in order to determine if the spirit wished to be brought back to life. Moskvin claimed he had been doing this for around twenty years and insisted that when he began, he never dug up a grave without the permission of the child within. As he grew older, it became physically painful for him to sleep on the graves, so he began bringing the bodies home where it would be more comfortable to sleep near them. He hoped the spirits would be more willing to speak in a safe, welcoming home and that they might be easier to hear when they were no longer underground.
After exhuming the corpses, Moskvin researched mummification theories and techniques in an attempt to preserve the bodies. He dried the corpses using a combination of salt and baking soda and then cached the bodies in secure, dry places in and around cemeteries. Once the bodies dried, he carried them to his home where he used various methods to make "dolls" in an attempt to give the children functional bodies to be used when he eventually discovered a way to bring them back to life, feeling that their physical remains were too decayed and ugly for them to feel comfortable or happy. Unable to prevent the bodies from withering and shrinking as they dried, he would wrap the limbs in strips of cloth and stuff the body cavity with rags and padding to provide fullness, sometimes adding wax masks decorated with nail polish over the faces before dressing them in brightly colored children's clothes and wigs. These details made the bodies appear to be large homemade dolls, which prevented their discovery. It was unclear if each doll contained a full set of human remains.
Moskvin was aware that he was committing a crime, but felt the dead children were "calling out" to be rescued and believed that rescuing the children was more important than obeying the law. He was also motivated by his own desire to have children, specifically a daughter. Moskvin often regretted that he never had children and at one point attempted to adopt a young girl against the wishes of his parents, but his application was declined due to his low income. Moskvin denied any sexual attraction to the dolls and instead considered them to be his children. He spoke to and interacted with the corpses, sang songs to them, watched cartoons with them, and even held birthday parties and celebrated holidays for their benefit.
Publications contributed to:
- Moskvin wrote regularly for Necrologies, a weekly newspaper that publishes obituaries and stories about cemeteries and famous dead people.
- In 2009–2010 he regularly contributed to the newspaper Nizhny Novgorod Worker.
- English-Russian and Russian-English dictionary of the most common words and expressions. About 45 000 words. / Comp. Moskvin A. Yu. - M.: Tsentrpoligraf, 2009. - 719 p. - (Large vocabulary). - ISBN 978-5-9524-4088-3.
- School Anglo-Russian and Russian-English dictionary / comp. Moskvin A. Yu. - M.: Tsentrpoligraf, 2014. - 640 p. - (School dictionaries). - ISBN 978-5-227-05185-1.
- Great Dictionary of Foreign Words. Over 25,000 words / comp. Moskvin A. Yu. - 7 th ed., Rev. and additional .. - M.: Tsentrpoligraf, 2008. - 688 p. - (Large vocabulary). - ISBN 978-5-9524-3984-9.
- School phrasebook Russian language / comp. Moskvin A. Yu. - M.: Tsentrpoligraf, 2012, 2013. - 639 p. - (School dictionaries). - ISBN 978-5-227-04592-8.
- Wilson T. History of the swastika from ancient times to the present day = The Swastika: The Earliest Known symbol and Its Migrations / per. with English .: Moskvin A. Yu. - N. Novgorod Books, 2008. - 528 p. - ISBN 978-5-94706-053-9.
- Moskvin A. Yu Cross without crucifix // The history of the swastika from ancient times to the present day. - N. Novgorod: Publishing House "Books", 2008. - S. 355-526. - 528 p. - ISBN 978-5-94706-053-9.