Russian thief 'dressed up 29 skeletons as dolls'

7th November 2011, Comments 0 comments

A Russian man arrested on suspicion of stealing 29 skeletons from a local cemetery dressed them up as giant dolls in fancy dress to decorate his apartment, an official said on Monday.

Police have arrested Anatoly Moskvin, 45, from the central city of Nizhny Novgorod, who reportedly has a PhD and was known locally for his fascination for cemeteries.

"Twenty-eight human size dolls were found in the 45-year-old Nizhny Novgorod resident's apartment," the spokeswoman of the region's interior ministry Svetlana Kovylina said in a video clip on the ministry's website.

"He made them himself using clothing and mummified human remains stolen from cemeteries," she said. "Another body was found in his garage."

The shaky police footage ( shows a small apartment crammed with books and heaps of colourful fabric, with bodies positioned in casual poses among cheap furnishings and oriental rugs.

Police released the video after reporting last Thursday having found 20 skeletons in the man's flat, but delayed the gruesome details until after the public holiday on Friday for Russia's Day of National Unity.

Most of the remains are from bodies of young girls, say the officers recording the video. One body is shown sitting on a sofa with the legs crossed, wearing a purple dress with frilly lace trim and girly white shoes.

There are also doll-like figures in bridal costumes displayed around the living room, and one body leaning down from atop a stack of bookshelves. All have their faces covered or painted, and one appears to have a head of a stuffed animal.

Moskvin, pictured with greying hair and beard and wearing a brown winter coat, is "known in some research circles as a specialist in cemeteries," said the spokeswoman.

A native of the Volga river city and author of several books about cemeteries, Moskvin now faces up to three months in prison.

In an interview to a local journalist several years ago he said he became interested in cemeteries while still a teenage troublemaker, after accidentally witnessing an unusual burial organised by a member of some sect.

"Since then, I am pulled to cemeteries as if by a magnet," he said in the interview, published by the journalist Tatiana Kokina-Slavina on her website.

© 2011 AFP

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