The Russian Doll Man

A man longing for a family of his own creates a menagerie of corpses instead

A.D. Argyle
7 min readFeb 15, 2021
A.D. Argyle, 2021.

Content Warning |

This story contains some material that might not be suitable for all audiences.

Early Life |

Anatoly Moskvin was born to parents, Yuri Fedorovich and Elvira Alexandrovna, on September 1, 1966, in Russia’s fifth-largest city, Nizhny Novgorod. As a child, his parents said he was meek, intelligent, and socially awkward. Around eight or nine years old, his calm, quiet demeanor morphed into aggression with frequent outbursts at his parents. Later, he would admit this behavior stemmed from rape by an unknown man. Unaware of what occurred, his parents backed off, leaving him more alone than ever. This distance between Anatoly and his parents would span the rest of their relationship. He went on to lead an otherwise ordinary life as a child. As an adult, he became detached, seeking refuge in his studies instead. He would never marry or date, preferring to live with his parents who were often out of town and away from their shared home.

Nizhny Novgorod. The Guardian, 2021.

His veracity for learning allowed him to make a name for himself within academic circles. Colleagues remember him as an “eclectic genius.” He first pursued a degree in Philology, the study of written and oral history, at Moscow State University. Here, he unabashedly explored his interests in death, cemeteries, burials, and the occult which were all covered under the study of Celtic history and folklore. He was always grinding away at something and in later investigations, it was found that he had over 60,000 documents in his personal library that encompassed these topics. He is a polyglot, someone who speaks many languages. Moskvin knew thirteen.

He worked at the Institute of Foreign Languages and later gave lectures at Nizhny Novgorod Linguistics University. He went on to write several books. During slower periods, he worked as a journalist, regularly publishing with local newspapers.

Some of his more eccentric work focused on accurately listing more than 700 corpses across 40 cemeteries in the region of Nizhny Novgorod Oblast, spanning from 2005 until 2007. He spent every day walking nearly twenty miles and at night, he’d sleep on haystacks and in abandoned barns, drinking water from puddles that had collected on the roadside. He reminisced about sleeping in a coffin that had been prepared for a funeral the following day.

These adventures were recorded and given to Alexei Yasen the editor of a publication titled, Necrologies. However, he has not released the work, stating in retrospect, the literature is “priceless.”

From 2006 until 2010, he then worked once more as a freelance correspondent, this time for Nizhny Novgorod Worker, where his father is also said to have worked. In 2008, Moskvin went on to publish a series of articles dedicated to the time he spent traversing the local cemeteries.

Revealing the Keeper and His House of Horrors|

Suspicions were difficult to diffuse when it was discovered that nearly thirty gravesites had been disturbed in the area surrounding Moskvin’s home. Soon, everyone couldn’t help but acknowledge that only one person held so much interest in the dead and the cemeteries where they resided.

On November 2, 2011 Anatoly was arrested for the charge of grave desecrations but this was the beginning of the deep and dark reality that Moskvin found himself in. Amongst the bookworm’s clutter were the corpses he’d exhumed. They were seated on shelves and sofas in multiple rooms around the house. Police found notes on how to create the “dolls”, maps of the cemeteries with marked placements of disturbed graves, as well photographic and video evidence of opened gravesites. However, none of the video or photo evidence could be connected to the bodies within the house.

7 News, 2021.
Trever Cole, Unsplash, 2021.

In total, twenty-six bodies were discovered in his apartment and garage, although initial reports stated he’d taken twenty-nine bodies. All were female, ranging in age from three to twenty-five. He is believed to have desecrated 150 graves after investigators found numerous mementos from other graves like nameplates around Moskvin’s home. He was also accused of hate crimes when it was discovered that he defaced gravesites of Muslims in the area but these charges were dropped during the trial.

After the Arrest |

Moskvin was found psychologically impaired by paranoid schizophrenia. On May 25, 2012, he was found unfit to stand trial by a district court and was sentenced instead to “coercive medical measures” without appeal. He has since remained in psychiatric care with regular intervals where he is tested again. In 2019, the facility where he’s been since his trial ended petitioned for Moskvin to be released, deeming him safe for home care. However, testing by court-appointed officials found the opposite and refused his removal. The facility dropped their proceedings.

Through his educational expeditions, Moskvin found tales of ancient Druids performing black magic that would bring the dead back to life. He said he felt “deep sympathy” for the deceased children and believed that he could bring them back to life. He trusted that his educational studies had readied him so that he could communicate with the dead.

When asked about how he chose his victims, he replied that he would read obituaries until one really spoke to him. He’d then visit the cemetery and sleep on the gravesite, like the Druids he’d read about. He believed staying there would allow the spirit to tell him if the child wished to be resurrected. Moskvin admits to doing this for twenty years before his arrest. He reiterates that he’d never remove a body unless he got approval from the spirit beforehand. However, as he aged, it became more difficult for him to sleep on the ground.

Now, he’d carry the bodies home where he could rest beside the bodies in comfort. He stated that he hoped the spirits would also be more willing to communicate within the confines of a welcoming home rather than in the cemetery. As well as the chance that he might be able to hear them better since they wouldn’t be underground anymore.

After the bodies were removed from the ground, he began a mummification process using salt and baking soda. He’d allow them to dry out in secure locations away from his home until he deemed them fit for display. Once they were dried, he’d bring them home and make them appear more doll-like, all of which he believed would allow their bodies to remain in optimal condition until he was able to bring the children back to life. He feared that if they remained in their natural state, the spirits might not be pleased with their new lot on life if they were forced to spend it in decaying, “ugly” bodies. This meant filling cavities and limbs with rags, wrapping them in linen cloths, and painting their faces with nail polish. He’d dress them in children’s clothes and bright colored wigs. They’d then be displayed on shelves and sofas around the home. Disguising the corspes in such a manner is believed to be the reason why his unusual behaviors went undiscovered for so long.

Still, it is unclear if every “doll” contained full human remains.

As for a direct motive, the closest investigators received was Moskvin’s desire to have a child of his own, especially a daughter. However, when he attempted to adopt a young girl, he was denied his request due to a low income. His dreams of a family were also undermined by his overbearing parents who were vehemently against him having a child of his own and were said to be overjoyed when his adoption application was denied.

Questions about his relationship with the “dolls” were also addressed. He stated that he didn’t view them as sexual objects but instead as his very real children. He held birthday parties for each of them, celebrated holidays, sang songs to them, and even watched cartoons with them.

Summary |

Anatoly Moskvin’s tale is one shrouded by the dark cloud of mental illness, where he has been wholly consumed by his fears and regrets to the point where he no longer can differentiate between reality and the hellish dreamscape of schizophrenia. For Moskvin, he was creating a family but for the families whose children were desecrated and disturbed, they only find frustration and sadness. What was supposed to be a final resting place became a hunting ground for a very rare sort of predator.

Anatoly Moskvin. The Sun, 2019.

Disclaimers |

All the work presented here has been compiled from several different sources on the Internet. This article is for educational purposes and therefore has been scruntinized to provide accurate details.



A.D. Argyle

Ashleigh is a creator from the States that explores social issues and interests.