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In 2011 Russian police raided the home of a highly intelligent and generally well-regarded historian and linguist named Anatoly Moskvin. They discovered almost 30 life sized dolls, many of which were clothed in frilly dresses and ornate head scarves. The idea of a 45-year-old man keeping a huge collection of life-sized dolls in his parents’ house, which is where Moskvin was living, is plenty creepy in its own right. These were not typical dolls though. They were actually the mummified and gussied up remains of 29 dead little girls that Moskvin had dug up and brought home.
Anatoly Moskvin spent an inordinate amount of time in cemeteries. Apart from the occasional excavation of the graves of newly deceased children, most of his time was spent doing legitimate academic work. Russia has a long and storied history of shoddy record keeping. They may or may not have misplaced entire nuclear arsenals for example. This lackadaisical approach to record keeping extends to the documentation of birth and death dates. Moskvin’s primary reason for visiting 750+ graveyards over 3 years was to create a more complete database of this information. He was dedicated to this project and the work he completed will, for decades to come, be used for a variety of purposes such as genealogy research, and to discern changes in mortality rates over time.
Then I told my mother that I would do black magic and get in touch with the spirits of dead children, mummify their bodies and keep them at home.
At some point while carrying out his research, Moskvin became obsessed with the notion of adopting a little girl. Because he was still living with his parents, he asked his mother if he could adopt a child from a nearby orphanage. Later, when recounting this interaction with his mother, Anatoly recalled, “Then I told my mother that I would do black magic and get in touch with the spirits of dead children, mummify their bodies and keep them at home.”
Listen to Episode 15 of Where is the Line? to learn more about Anatoly Moskvin and his macabre doll collection. We’ll also learn more about Samantha’s childhood sexual depravity when she recounts her experiences atop a faux bearskin rug.
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