Lest you think I've gone all soft and sappy in recent days, I bring you something exceedingly morbid today. Thanks to Franck for bringing to my attention the new details (including a video, screen grabs above) that have emerged since my earlier post:
A 45-year-old Russian scholar has been dubbed “The Lord of the Mummies” by the local papers after he was arrested for desecrating more than 150 graves and bringing some of the occupants home with him. Anatolia Moskvin was fluent in 13 languages, well-traveled, and respected as a historian and journalist. He was an expert on cemeteries and had bylines entitled “Great Walks Around Cemeteries” and “What the Dead Said” in the weekly paper Necrologies that publishes obituaries and stories about cemeteries and the illustrious dead.
When authorities searched Moskvin's 3-bedroom apartment, they found the mummified corpses of 29 women and girls ages 15-26: 28 sandwiched among piles of papers and other belongings, and another in the garage. The bodies of the exhumed women were dressed in gowns, hats, and stockings. Moskvin had compiled up-to-date biographical information for each of them, as well as instructions for producing his life-sized "dolls." A local resident says, “...he placed musical boxes inside the mummies, set them up around his living room and had tea, while they were singing for him.”
Moskvin spent years researching more than 750 cemeteries in the area, collecting epitaphs, listing local place names, and describing mausoleums. “All his life he was obsessed with walking around hundreds of cemeteries, studying and documenting the graves. There is nobody like him in Russia," says the editor of Necrologies Alexei Yesin. Publisher Oleg Riabov commissioned Moskvin 3 years ago to put his knowledge to work compiling a list of the burials in the region, but the project had not been published.
The cemeteries Moskvin studied and plundered are located in the 40 regions of Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. His house is located closest to Krasnoetnovskoe, one of the city cemeteries. Law enforcement officers, who had earlier detained him on suspicion of theft of nonferrous metals, now hope to prosecute Moskvin for repeated cases of vandalism and desecration of graves.
According to the video description, a schoolmate attributes Moskvin's obsession with the dead to an experience he was forced to undergo as a child. Moskvin confirms this and elaborates in an October issue of Necrologies that at the age of 13 he was stopped on his way home from school. Men in black suits dragged him to a coffin and compelled him to kiss a deceased 11-year-old girl named Natasha Petrova. “I kissed her once, then again, then again,” Moskvin writes, describing a posthumous marriage ritual in which Petrova's mother put wedding rings on his and the dead girl’s fingers. "From what I hear, the most probable diagnosis for Moskvin’s psychological problem is necrophilia and situational fetishism," says psychiatrist Yan Goland, head of the Korefei Center for Psychological Rehabilitation.
Moskvin's editor became increasingly reluctant to publish his writings: “Many of his articles enlighten his sensual interest in deceased young women, which I took for romantic and somewhat childish fantasies the talented writer emphasized,” says Yesin. Moskvin's neighbors were not unduly suspicious of the odors that his open door emitted: “Our buildings all stink of something that rots in the basements,” says one of them, who suggests that some of the blame lies with his family: “His respectable parents and friends surely knew about his psychiatric sickness, but nobody sent him to the hospital for treatment."
The authorities have not offered Moskvin any psychological treatment and have stated that they intend to try him as if he were entirely sane. Says Riabov, “This is a tragedy, that the investigation accuses Moskvin as if he were a sane person. We fear that instead of being treated properly in the hospital, he is going to be killed in jail.”