The Squonk & The Hag

Anatoly Moskvin: The Russian Doll Man

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This episode, we return to Russia but not a serial killer this time. In some ways, our topic isn’t as bad as a serial killer, but in other ways, it’s far far worse.

Nizhny Novgorod is the sixth largest city in Russia with over 1 million residents. In 1966, Elvira and Yuri Moskvin welcomed their son Anatoly into the world. Anatoly was a good student and started his childhood happily. In 1974 as a third grader, we was walking home from school when he was grabbed and subsequently raped by a strange man, but he never told anyone until he was in his 50’s. Even with this secret, he continued to excel in school but became quite secluded.

Five years later in 1979 while on a field trip, he was pulled into the funeral procession of a young girl. 11-year-old Natasha Petrova had passed from accidental electrocution. Anatoly was forced to kiss her forehead three times after which her mother handed him an apple and then revealed two brass rings. One was placed on her daughters hand, the other on Anatoly’s as he was told they were now married.

The weeks after this were plagued by nightmares of Natasha telling Anatoly he needed to learn black magic to raise her from the grave. He tried a few rituals that were meant to keep her spirit from speaking to him and eventually the nightmares faded. But Anatoly’s interest in the macabre had just begun.

From here on out, Anatoly was obsessed with rituals of death.

Anatoly attended Moscow State University in the 80s , studying language in history. He was obsessed with black magic and even joined a satanic cult. after telling them the story of Natasha and the ritual at her funeral, the other members were impressed and held him with higher regard. However, he felt that he missed an opportunity by pushing her out of his life. his goal from then was to learn the black magic that she spoke of.

His focus of study would be Celtic but he researched many different cultures for his dark interests. He trained as a linguist, a philologist and a historian and was well known in academia. His knowledge of folklore, burial rituals, Celtic history, the occult, as well as death and cemeteries, was considered extensive and beneficial to the academic community. He collected a personal library of over 60,000 books and documents. His fellow academics described him as both a genius and eccentric. He led a very secluded life even into adulthood. He never married or dated. He lived with his parents by choice, and did not drink or smoke.

In the 1990s he researched ancient rituals to commune with the dead including some from the Celtic Druids and Siberian Yakuts. both societies had similar rituals of sleeping on a person’s grave to commune with their spirit. he believed that these rituals would allow him to speak with those interred at the cemetery. He started searching obituaries for young child deaths and then would sleep on their graves to talk to them.

He did have one romantic relationship in 2003 when he fell in love with a woman named Yahlia. she she was fine with a nonsexual relationship but did want to have children. At the time in Russia, a non married couple was unable to adopt and ultimately this led to her leaving him.

Speaking 13 languages, he previously worked at The Institute of Foreign Languages before lecturing on Celtic studies at the Nizhny Novogorod Linguistic University. He would occasionally work as a journalist and regularly contributed to local newspapers.

He described himself as a necropolist, an expert in local cemeteries. Between 2006 and 2010, he was a freelance correspondent to the newspaper Nizhny Novgorod Worker. In 2008, this work included a series of articles about the local cemeteries in the area.

In 2006, he was commissioned to catalog and document all of the cemeteries in Nizhny Novgorod. He traveled on foot walking up to 20 miles per day and was often stopped by police or locals. He was never arrested but he was often either beat up, fully assaulted, or pushed out of the area by the residents. After completing this commission which took 4 years, he became a recluse and turned to freelance articles as his main source of income.

In 2011, a wave of vandalism and desecration at cemeteries due to a bunch of hate crimes led to investigations. Moskvin was suspected immediately due to his fascination and involvement with the cemeteries, as well as the past documented interactions with police from his 2006 to 2010 documentation of cemeteries. During this investigation, police raided Moskvin’s home. While they were searching the home, they saw many large homemade dolls. To access something one of the officers saw, they moved one of the dolls and heard something rattle inside. This led to one of the most horrifying discoveries. Inside these 26 dolls were the mummified remains of human bodies.

Moskvin cooperated with the investigators. They found out that he had been making dolls for over 10 years. He also kept a list of their birthdays, photographs and nameplates from grave sites which helped in victim identification later as well.

Many wonder how he was even able to do this while living with his parents. half of each year they would they would spend their summer cottage. During this time is when he would find his targets and create the dolls. Police found instructions in the home on how he did this. After mummifying the body he, he followed tutorials and lessons on how to create homemade dolls with plaster cloth and other materials.

Due to the mummification of the corpses and the techniques he used to make the dolls, his parents were unaware what was inside. they thought it was just a hobby of his to create these homemade dolls. he not only wrap the body in fabric and other materials, but he would stuff various areas to fill them out so that so that they softer and the right proportions.

His reasoning for taking the bodies was that their parents had left them cold, alone and abandoned in their grave. Most of the bodies were children but some ranged into their early 20s as well. He would hide them in moseleums to mummify before bringing them home where he dressed them in warm clothing, bright colors and even put makeup on some of the faces.

As he cased a spirit and monitored the grave, Moskin would leave signed notes with D.A. which stood for dobry angel. This translates to kind angel. He stated that he believed he could either use dark magic or was waiting for science to be able to bring these children back.

One of these children was Olga Chardymova. Olga was only 10 years old when she was murdered. Her grandmother lived one a block away, and being a bright and defiant young girl, she wanted to walk by herself. The beautiful little blond child put on her coat with her mother’s wary consent and left the house. On the way, a drug addict grabbed her and took her to a secluded location to steal to steal her earrings and any other valuables she might have. When she tried to escape, she was struck over the head with a metal bar. The perpetrator then hid her body and she was not found for five months.

Her mother Natalia went through hell during this time. Not knowing where her daughter was for five months was agony. She was finally able to bury her child in 2002. She would often visit the grave and and was even building a small decorative fence around it. As she worked on this from 2002 to 2003, There were often notes left (signed by DA) as well as little gifts and stuffed animals that were apparently stolen from other graves. One time, it seemed that the grave may have been disturbed but she did not look into it further.

In 2012 as part of the investigation into Moskvin, the grave was exhumed. The coffin was very well preserved but there was a hole in the top. From his notes found in the house during the raid, he said that he had dug her up in 2003. From what police could piece together, it appears he dug down, broke a hole into the top of the coffin, stole the body, and left. Natalia was obviously devastated once again, and after this she buried her daughter in an unmarked grave elsewhere so that she she could rest in peace.

During the trial, Moskin was given a psychiatric evaluation. Doctors determined that he is schizophrenic and was labeled unfit to stand trial. During these interviews, Moskvin even told authorities to not bother reburying the girls, because he was going to dig them back up when he was released. He was sentenced to treatment at a psychiatric ward indefinitely. In 2019, the doctors petitioned for his release saying that he is rehabilitated, but he was denied release and still remains in custody.

He has also petitioned to be released in order to marry a woman he has had a long distance relationship in while in this medical care. He wishes to lead a normal life, get married, and be free, but the court system has fortunately not allowed that.


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