Welcome To The Dollhouse

Anatoly Moskvin, a linguist and philologist born in 1966 in Nizhny Novgorod, had earned the unquestioning respect of his fellow academics.
He fluently spoke thirteen languages, and was the author of important studies and academic papers. Great expert of Celtic folklore and of Russian funerary customs, at the age of 45 he was still living with his parents; he refrained from drinking or smoking, collected dolls and it was murmured that he was a virgin. But everybody knows that geniuses are always a little eccentric.

Yet Anatoly Moskvin was hiding a secret. A personal mission he felt he had to accomplish, driven by compassion and love, but one he knew his fellow citizens, not to mention the law, would have deemed crazy.
That very secret was to seal his fate, behind the walls of the mental institute where Anatoly Moskvin now spends his days.

Nizhny Novgorod, capital of the Volga District and the fifth Russian city, is an important cultural centre. In the surroundin areas several hundred graveyards cand be found, and in 2005 Moskvin was assigned the task of recording all the headstones: in two years he visited more than 750 cemeteries.
It was a tough job. Anatoly was forced to walk alone, sometimes for 30 km a day, facing harsh condistions. He had to spend many nights outdoors, drinking from puddles and taking shelter in the abandoned barns of the inhospitable region. One night, caught in the dark, to avoid freezing to death he found no better option than to break in the cemetery burial chamber and sleep in a coffin which was already prepared for next morning’s funeral. When at dawn the gravediggers arrived, they found him sleeping: Anatoly dashed off shouting his excuses – among the general laughter of undertakers who luckily did not chase after him.

The amount of data Mskvin gathered during this endeavour was unprecedented, and the study promised to be “unique” and “priceless”, in the words of those who followed its development. It was never published, but it served as the basis for a long series of articles on the history of Nizhny Novgorod’s cemeteries, published by Moskvin between 2006 and 2010.
But in 2011 the expert’s career ended forever, the day the police showed up to search his home.

Among the 60.000 books in is private library, stacked along the walls and on the floor, between piles of scattered paper and amidst a confusion of objects and documents, the agents found 26 strange, big dolls that gave off an unmistakable foul odor.
These were actually the mummified corpses of 26 little girls, three to 12-year-olds.
Anatoly Moskvin’s secret mission, which lasted for twenty years, had finally been discovered.

Celt druids – as well as Siberian shamans – slept on graves to communicate with the spirits of the deceased. For many years Anatoly did the same. He would lay down on the grave of a recently buried little girl, and speak with her. How are you in that tomb, little angel? Are you cold? Would you like to take a walk?
Some girls answered that they felt alright, and in that case Anatoly shared their happiness.
Other times, the child wept, and expressed the desire to come back to life.
Who would have got the heart to leave them down there, alone and frightened in the darkness of a coffin?

Anatoly studied mummification methods in his books. After exhuming the bodies, he dried them with a mixture of salt and baking soda, hiding them around the cemetery. When they dried out completely, he brought them home and dressed them, providing a bit of thickness to the shrunken limbs with layers of fabric. In some cases he built wax masks, painted with nail polish, to cover their decomposed faces; he bought wigs, bright-colored clothes in the attempt of giving back to those girls their lost beauty.


His elderly parents, who were mostly away from home, did not realize what he was doing. If their son had the hobby of building big puppets, what was wrong with that? Anatoly even disguised one of the bodies as a plush bear.

Moskvin talked to these little bodies he had turned into dolls, he bought them presents. They watched cartoons together, sang songs, held birthday parties.

But he knew this was only a temporary solution. His hope was that science would someday find a way to bring “his” girls back to life – or maybe he himself, during his academic research, could find some ancient black magic spell that would achieve the same effect. Either way, in the meantime, those little girls needed to be comforted and cuddled.

You can’t imagine it”, said during the trial the mother of one of the girls Moskvin stole from the cemetery and mummified. ”You can’t imagine that somebody would touch the grave of your child, the most holy place in this world for you. We had been visiting the grave of our child for nine years and we had no idea it was empty. Instead, she was in this beast’s apartment. […] For nine years he was living with my mummified daughter in his bedroom. I had her for ten years, he had her for nine.”.

Anatoly replied: “You abandoned your girls in the cold – and I brought them home and warmed them up”.

Charged with desecration of graves and dead bodies, Moskvin faced up to five years in prison; but in 2012 he was declared suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, unfit to stand trial, and thus sentenced for coercitive sanitary treatment. In all probability, he will never get out of the psychiatric institute he’s held in.

The little girls never awoke.

Moskvin’s story is somehow analogue to the ones I told in this series of posts:
L’amore che non muore – I   (Italian only)
L’amore che non muore – II  (Italian only)
L’amore che non muore – III  (English)

14 comments to Welcome To The Dollhouse

  1. Pina Fantozzi says:

    Che storia macabre e triste.
    Capisco il dolore e la rabbia dei genitori, per quanto magari, nella loro folilia, le intenzioni di questo disgraziato non fossero cattive.

  2. Paolo says:

    Chiedo scusa se uso questo fastidiosissimi sistema da spammer, ma veramente ho “problemi tecnici ” che mi rendono troppo difficile fare diversamente. È per invitare l’ esimiocreatore di questo blog a visitare questa umile pagina appena nata che potrebbe sparire da un momento all’altro, assieme al mondo conosciuto. Non sono un allarmista, ma credo sia giusto che le persone sappiano e prendano provvedimenti, come dice il ragazzo nell’ intervista. Mentre il prof. Moretti in un altra intervista spiega con una bonaria rassegnazione pelo per pelo quel che sarà l’Apocalisse, c’è possibilità di salvezza? Si.
    Meglio sapere. L’invito è esteso a chiunque voglia rendersi conto di un incubo tale da “tagliare il cielo a metà” il più grande super vulcano al mondo, dopo lo Yellowstone sta per deflagrare, entro un arco di appena cinque anni ogni momento è quello buono, se per miracolo non succede, ci sarà un altro ciclo di diecimila anni di carica e scarica della caldera dei Campi Flegrei.
    Signori solo in questo blog, il grande mostro può trovare spazio, chi è sensibile, qui sul posto vedrebbe cose incredibili, soprattutto il deragliamento cognitivo ed emotivo legato alla potenza che distava prima del silenzio stampa, appena 3km dal suolo.
    Se non altro, ascoltate il Prof. Moretti, l’intervista parte male, alla lontana, l’intervistatore vorrebbe buttarla sul ridere, ma quando fa silenzio si sente che è perché il peso della consapevole gli ricaccia la cretinagine fine da dove vorrebbe uscire.
    Che figuraccia, l’intervista col Prof. Moretti me l’ha segnalata un americano da Yellowstone (che sta dando da star male a chi segue) ero andato a vedere che si diceva lì spinto dal silenzio di qui. È intervenuta la NASA ma non mi interessa molto, mi interessa che lì c’è molta meno lobotomia che qui.
    Grazie
    Grazie
    https://www.facebook.com/Bisogna-Usarne-Molta-Pagina-Sui-Campi-Flegrei-Botta-O-Fetecchia-105749613430914/

  3. Simone says:

    Incredibile, questa storia ha tutto, mummie, antiche civiltà, lo studioso un po’ matto (e russo), cimiteri…Se non fosse stato per le mummie, comunque, credo che sarebbe stato considerato solo un po’ eccentrico, e non “matto”.

    Se posso suggerirti due o tre argomenti: trapianti di testa tra gli insetti decenni prima di quelli in Russia e negli Usa (http://io9.gizmodo.com/the-bizarre-history-of-insect-head-transplants-456738894 https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF02108510 http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v114/n2862/abs/114347a0.html?foxtrotcallback=true) e Jemmy Hirst, che secondo me è l’eccentrico più simpatico della storia (http://io9.gizmodo.com/5767995/the-weirdest-animal-expert-who-ever-lived).

    • Medardo G. says:

      Hai detto bene, questa storia ha tutto quello che rende questo blog così speciale: una vicenda allucinante, una narrazione piana tesa a evitare ogni sensazionalismo o giudizio morale, e via andare. Se volessi riassumere Bizzarrobazar in un solo post, sceglierei questo.
      Complimenti ovvi e scontati, ma se sono meritati perché non darli?

    • bizzarrobazar says:

      Grazie Simone per i suggerimenti, tutti debitamente segnati. 😉

  4. Marianna says:

    Ciao!Ti seguo sempre con molto affetto ma non ho mai commentato.
    Oggi però ho notato una cosa strana sul tuo sito che non posso esimermi dal comunicarti. Dopo aver guardato il video annesso al tuo articolo,tornando indietro dopo aver letto i commenti, mi è apparsa la scritta “Trasferimento dati da paypal.com”. Sono corsa subito a controllare e pare che per il momento i miei soldi siano ancora lì. Non so se qualche hacker si sia intrufolato sul tuo sito e aspetti la chiusura delle banche nel week end per fare il colpaccio o se sia stata una mera coincidenza. io nel dubbio controllerei.
    Grazie e continua così!
    Un bacione,

    Marianna

    • bizzarrobazar says:

      Sei sicura di non aver cliccato per sbaglio da qualche parte – ad esempio sulla donazione PayPal? Ho il firewall di protezione attivo e non ha rilevato intrusioni di nessun tipo.

  5. Fabio Pilade Paolo Milani says:

    Comunque sia è una storia delicata e persino commovente e ricorda molto da vicino la vicenda di Carl Tanzler.
    Che dire? Mania? Follia? Perversione? Senz’altro tutti e tre gli elementi per formare uno psicodramma. Certo che il buon Movskin non ha comunque fatto del male a nessuno… se non a se stesso.

  6. Sabrina says:

    Ce n’è di gente con strane manie al mondo….certo questa è inquietante oltremodo….

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