In the annals of criminal history, few stories are as perplexing and chilling as that of Anatoly Yuryevich Moskvin, a former Russian linguist, philologist, and historian. Born on September 1, 1966, Moskvin’s life took a macabre turn when the mummified bodies of twenty-six girls and women, aged 3 to 29, were discovered in his apartment in Nizhny Novgorod in 2011. What makes this case even more bewildering is the fact that Moskvin’s parents, who shared the apartment with him, believed these mummies to be nothing more than large dolls.
In this article, we delve into the disturbing story of Anatoly Yuryevich Moskvin, exploring his personal life, education, career, arrest, and the chilling motives behind his actions.
Personal Life and Education
Moskvin’s early years in Gorky (now Nizhny Novgorod) were marked by a fascination with death. As a schoolboy, he wandered through cemeteries, particularly the Krasnaya Etna Cemetery in his hometown. His eerie interest in the deceased stemmed from a traumatic childhood incident where he was coerced into kissing the face of an eleven-year-old girl during a funeral procession. This incident left an indelible mark on Moskvin, driving him towards his peculiar obsessions.
After completing his studies at the philological faculty of Moscow State University, Anatoly Yuryevich Moskvin gained recognition in academic circles. He specialized in Celtic history, folklore, languages, and linguistics. However, alongside his scholarly pursuits, he nurtured a deep fascination for cemeteries, burial rituals, death, and the occult. Moskvin’s eccentricities were further exemplified by his massive collection of over 60,000 books, documents, and a peculiar assortment of dolls.
As an adult, Moskvin chose to live a secluded life. He never married, dated, or indulged in vices like alcohol or tobacco. In 2016, there were reports of his intention to marry a 25-year-old native of Nizhny Novgorod, but this union never came to fruition.
Before his arrest, Moskvin was a former lecturer in Celtic studies at Nizhny Novgorod Linguistic University and had worked at the Institute of Foreign Languages. His linguistic prowess extended to proficiency in thirteen languages, and he was renowned for his written works, papers, and translations within academic circles. He occasionally contributed to local newspapers and publications and considered himself a “necropolist,” an expert on the cemeteries in the Nizhny Novgorod Oblast.
In 2005, Moskvin was commissioned to summarize and catalog the deceased in over 700 cemeteries across forty regions of Nizhny Novgorod Oblast. Over two years, he walked up to 18.6 miles a day, inspecting cemeteries and documenting his findings, although this work remains unpublished. Despite his bizarre pursuits, his colleagues believed that there had been a mistake when he was arrested.
Between 2006 and 2010, Moskvin worked as a freelance correspondent for the newspaper Nizhny Novgorod Worker, where he published articles on the history of Nizhny Novgorod cemeteries.
Arrest and Criminal Proceedings
Moskvin’s life took a nightmarish turn on November 2, 2011, when he was arrested in connection with a series of grave desecrations in and around Nizhny Novgorod. Investigators from the Centre for Combating Extremism made a shocking discovery in his apartment—a collection of twenty-six mummified bodies, though initial reports suggested there were twenty-nine. These bodies were found seated on shelves and sofas, concealed amid a sea of books, papers, and general clutter.
The investigation revealed that Moskvin had not only desecrated graves but also created these “dolls” by exhuming corpses, drying them, and dressing them in children’s clothes. Although he was suspected of violating as many as 150 graves, it was challenging to conclusively connect all the evidence to the bodies found in his apartment. The bodies mainly came from cemeteries in the Nizhny Novgorod region, with some potentially originating from Moscow.
In an interview after his arrest, Moskvin shared his belief that he could bring the dead children back to life through science or black magic. Drawing from his expertise in Celtic culture, he emulated ancient practices where Druids slept on graves to communicate with the spirits of the deceased. Similarly, he discovered that the Yakuts of Siberia had similar rituals. Moskvin would search for obituaries of recently deceased children, sleep on their graves, and attempt to communicate with their spirits. He insisted that he never dug up a grave without the permission of the child within.
As he grew older, Moskvin found it physically challenging to sleep on the graves. To continue his bizarre quest, he began bringing the bodies home, hoping to create a more welcoming environment for the spirits. He aimed to give these deceased children functional bodies that would eventually allow them to return to life. Despite the grotesque nature of his actions, Moskvin insisted that he was motivated by sympathy for the dead and the desire to rescue them.
The story of Anatoly Yuryevich Moskvin is a chilling and perplexing journey into the depths of schizophrenia and the extraordinary lengths to which it drove him. His academic brilliance was overshadowed by his disturbing obsessions and the heinous acts he committed. This bizarre tale stands as a testament to the complexity of the human mind and the darkness that can lurk within it.
After his arrest, Moskvin was found to be suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. He was sentenced to court-ordered psychiatric evaluation and has since been held in a psychiatric hospital.
Moskvin believed that the deceased children could be brought back to life through science or black magic. He was fascinated by Celtic and Siberian cultures, where sleeping on graves was a way to communicate with spirits.
The police discovered twenty-six mummified bodies in Moskvin’s apartment. Although he was suspected of desecrating as many as 150 graves, only twenty-six bodies were found in his home.
Moskvin led a reclusive life, never marrying or dating. However, there were reports that he planned to marry a 25-year-old woman from his hometown in 2016.
Moskvin was a former lecturer in Celtic studies at Nizhny Novgorod Linguistic University and had a deep interest in languages, linguistics, Celtic history, and folklore. He was well-recognized within academic circles for his work.