The doll collector

Even today, when the historian is in custody, accused of the desecration of more than 150 graves in the region, his “Great Walks Around Cemeteries” and “What the Dead Said” documentary series of features about famous deceased citizens, written in an old-fashioned style, continue to be published in a weekly newspaper. “All his life he was obsessed with walking around hundreds of cemeteries, studying and documenting the graves. There is nobody like him in Russia. He had researched over 750 cemeteries all over Nizhny Novgorod region, being paid miserable kopeks for his priceless unique work,” said Alexei Yesin, the editor of Necrologies, a weekly paper that publishes obituaries and stories about cemeteries and famous dead people. Moskvin wrote regularly for Necrologies. Yesin hopes the investigation will “dig out the truth” and let his reporter go free.

Not many echoed Yesin’s praise of Moskvin’s research after the investigators working on the scene released a video of what they discovered inside the historian’s apartment. In the clip, the camera moves along the corridor, which is cluttered with wedding dresses and bright, colorful clothes, and enters a small room. At first sight, the little figures of girls mounted on top of the bundles of old books and papers, or half-lying on the couches, could be taken for big, soft stuffed dolls. The camera zooms in to their faces, which are wrapped in light beige fabric, and settles on the painted eyes. The girl figure on the couch wears a knitted hat with a pinned rose and a lilac sweater; her legs, covered by white tights, are elegantly crossed. The camera moves down to the feet; the girl is wearing white shoes. The next “doll” in the corner has long, curled, blonde hair and wears a silk wedding dress with a veil running down to the floor. She could be 10 or 12 years old. “These dolls are made of mummified human remains,” the voiceover on the video says.