THE BIZARRE CASE OF THE RUSSIAN DOLL MAKER
May 5, 2021
Warning: this article deals with themes of necrophilia and death that may be upsetting to some readers. Continue at your own risk.
At age 13 in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod, Anatoly Moskvin claimed to have his awakening with death when he watched a funeral procession pass by for 11-year-old Natasha Petrova.
The boy was stopped by strange men in suits, who asked him to kiss the girl’s body. Her mother placed rings on her dead daughter’s fingers — and on Moskvin’s.
The boy, who had never seen Natasha before, now felt a strange bond with the dead girl.
“I kissed her once, then again, then again,” Moskvin wrote in 2011 for the weekly publication Necrologies, which writes about cemeteries and obituaries. “My strange marriage with Natasha Petrova was useful.”
By “useful,” Moskvin meant this chance encounter sparked an interest in history and mythology. He even began finding himself taking frequent walks through 752 cemeteries in Nizhny Novgorod, taking notes and recording the lives of those buried there.
But his interest went well beyond the academic. Moskvin even slept in a coffin the night before someone’s funeral.
While many considered Moskvin’s “necrologies” to be disturbing observations, and a crazy way to make a living, Moskvin had darker intentions. Perhaps he even began fulfilling wants he felt since his “marriage.”
In 2009, graves in Nizhny Novgorod began to be desecrated. This went on for two years, then in 2011, after a terrorist attack at a Russian airport, authorities stepped up their surveillance. They apprehended Moskvin in a local cemetery and searched his apartment.
Neighbors and Moskvin’s parents were shocked to learn that the quiet and polite Anatoly had not only desecrated graves, but also that the 29 dolls he collected were actually dead girls–ranging from ages three to 25.
Each “doll” wore a lovely dress and hand coverings. Some had their faces heavily caked with makeup, applied by Moskvin himself. (Photos and videos taken by the Russian media are online for those who would wish to see the “dolls.”)
Moskvin even went to the point of placing things inside the chests of the girls, which investigators discovered when music played from inside the bodies. Toys, hospital tags, parts of gravestones, and even a dried heart were found in various corpses, all things that helped Moskvin live in the delusion they were alive.
While the grave desecration was more obvious during the past two years, it turns out Moskvin practiced this odd form of necrophilia for quite a while. One of the “dolls” was the body of a woman he kept for nine years.
To ensure the corpses didn’t decay and have doll-like interiors, Moskvin stuffed their bodies with rags and used his own solution of baking soda and salt. He’d also wrap tights around their faces or place a real doll’s face on them while often placing toy eyes or buttons in their eye sockets to watch TV with them.
Moskvin calmly defended his hobby as a form of “adoption” — something he was prevented from doing by Russian laws that made it impossible for him to adopt for financial reasons.
Another claim he made was that he was waiting for science to come up with ways to reanimate life.
There were a few dolls he grew to dislike who would end up in his garage until they learned their lesson, but he’d often throw birthday parties for the girls to celebrate together.
“You abandoned your girls,” Moskvin said, “I brought them to life and warmed them up.”
During his trial, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and had to seek psychiatric help once he finished his trial sentence.
In November of 2020, it was declared his schizophrenia was cured, but the judge for his trial extended his stay by six months.
Despite this claim, Moskvin doesn’t see why the parents of the girls he collected are disgusted by his actions.
“These girls are girls,” he said. “There are no parents in my view. I don’t know any of them. Besides, they buried their daughters, and this is where I believe their rights over them finished.”
Be sure to come back next week for a more lighthearted article on the best crime comedy movies to watch!