Russia is indeed a fascinating country. Its history, culture, monuments, and cathedrals deserve anyone's attention. However, the vast Russian territory also hides a lot of dark stories. While some rumors say that the violence there increased after the collapse of Soviet Union, a quick search will show that it started way before the end of Cold War.
The country is home to countless serial killers, and most of them have a habit of dismembering their victims. But not only serial killers are responsible for horrible crimes in Russia. In a country that is also famous for having one of the most dangerous mafias in history, of course, they have their share of violent crimes. It’s also difficult to imagine another place where a man would feed polar bear with explosives just for fun.
It’s hard to think about something worse than that, but war crimes were able to be more lethal than all serial killers and mafia put together. Unfortunately, Russia is also not that different from Western countries when it comes to anti-gay crimes and domestic violence. Sadly, those are problems present everywhere.
Perhaps because of languages barriers or the cultural differences, there is a lack of information about what is going on in Russia - unless it involves politics, of course. Unfortunately, Western countries share some bad similarities with Russia: anti-gay crimes and domestic violence are part of the reality of countless people all over.
Here are 15 gruesome crimes that happened in Russia. Check it out:
Writer Analoly Moskvin became famous in Russia not because of his books, but for an unusual hobby. After the police heard about a series of grave desecrations in 2011, they noticed that Moskvin spent a lot of time in cemeteries, which led the police to do a search of his apartment.
It didn’t take long for the police make a creepy discovery: the man had 29 dolls that carried mummified parts from corpses he violated in the cemeteries. Some newspapers and sites said that his mother was aware of the doll making, but when she found out what they were made of, the woman decided to call the police.
All bodies were from females aged from 11 to 30 and the dolls were wearing dresses and lace stockings, and the police believe that the clothes also came from the graves. Some of the dolls took the definition of creepy to another level: they had a music box that played children's song when someone touched them
The horrors of war are well known, but they never stop shocking us. In 1939, when Nazi Germany and the USSR signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, both countries invaded Poland within a few days of each other. The Red Army easily defeated the Polish army (that was told not to resist).
Once Poland was occupied, the Red Army started to run after Polish officers, intellectuals, clergy, soldiers, and anti-soviet in general. Like many others, those people were brought to detention camps. In 1940, Polish prisoners were moved to different camps in the countryside, one in the Katyn Forest, where they were executed. 22.000 thousand bodies were found dumped in a mass grave and buried. That was the biggest mass execution ever against Polish prisoners. The grave was discovered in 1943.
In February 1959, the bodies of nine skiers were found by a rescue team near Otorten Mountain, in Russia. The scene the team found was so disturbing, that several theories of how they have died have emerged since that day.
Their tent was ripped apart and there was evidence that someone that was not welcome was trying to get in. Approximately a mile from the camp, two of the bodies were disposed in the snow and they were wearing just underwear. Three other bodies were near the camp and a doctor determined that they died of hypothermia.
The other four bodies were found only two months later and ribs and skulls were fractured. One of the bodies had a missing tongue. If that isn’t weird enough, they were wearing the missing clothes from the two bodies found in just underwear.
They found traces of radiation in the clothes and also around the campsite. Exams on the body said the trauma sustained to the body was so strong that it was considered inhuman.
Of course, many theories emerged: aliens, Soviet tests, and the Yeti were theorized as the killers, but nothing was ever proved.
Mikhail Popkov is a good police officer, father, and husband, according to himself. However, many people may disagree with the man who confessed to the murder of 82 women between 1992 and 2010. The man, known as Werewolf, is considered one of the worst serial killers of all time in Russia.
Popkov, who raped almost all his victims, aged from 17 to 38, was caught in 2010, after DNA tests were conducted. The serial killer, who lives in Siberia, believes he was cleaning the streets.
"The victims were those who, unaccompanied by men, at night, without a certain purpose, were on the streets, behaving carelessly, who were not afraid to enter into conversation with me, get into my car, and then go for a drive in search of adventures, for the sake of entertainment, ready to drink alcohol and have sexual intercourse with me,” said Popkov. "Not all women became victims, but those of a certain negative behavior, I had a desire to teach and punish."
On 4 November 2010, the whole country was shocked by a massacre in Kushevskaya, a rural town. The killers stabbed eight adults to death and strangled two children. They tried to burn the house with the bodies inside, and two babies who were inside died due smoke inhalation.
A Federal Police investigation found out the Tspaki gang, led by Sergey Tsapok, was responsible for the crime. They were after Server Ametov, a local farmer who somehow was in the way of the gang’s agricultural business. The gang killed his whole family and some guests who were at the house at the moment.
Tspaki has been active since 1998 and they managed to control the whole town by killing and threatening those who were in their way. At least 19 murders are credited to them. They also are responsible for 220 cases of rape and kidnapping. So how did they get away for so long? By buying the local police and state offices.
However, it is hard to ignore that massacre and Sergey was considered guilty for the murders. However, he died in 2014, due to a heart failure.
The movie A Woman In Berlin was based on the diaries of Marta Hillers and the horrible experiences the German journalist went through in 1945 when the infamous Red Army took over Berlin. Hillers was one of the two million women who were raped by Stalin’s army - not just once, but several times.
This is a very sensitive subject for Russia, since the Red Army holds a reputation of fighting hard and defending their country during those four years. Germans who experienced that era often avoid the subject, but for a different reason: they don't want an episode that caused so much pain to become public.
The aftermath of the mass rape was disgraceful. On the top of all the emotional damages, thousands of women had to cope with STDs and unwanted pregnancies. Many women had abortions or abandoned the babies.
Earlier this year, Russia banned gay propaganda, which brought up a debate about homophobia and discrimination all over the world. Homophobic crimes happen everywhere and every day, but in Russia, where the government makes it clear that gays are not welcome, those crimes often go unnoticed.
In 2013, a gay man who lived in Volgograd was tortured to death and raped with beer bottles. His skull was also smashed with a stone. The police confirmed they believed it was a hate crime, something rare due to the Russian law enforcement agencies on the issue of homophobia in the country.
A few days after the crimes, two young men were arrested for the crime. They were drinking with the victim the same night while celebrating Victory Day. The friendly mood changed when they found out the man was gay and then they started beating him.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case and attacks against gays and gay right defenders are often attacked.
In 2010, the Russian court sentenced six cannibal satanists to jail. During a ritual, they stabbed to death four teenagers and ate their flesh. The details of the crime, that happened in 2008, were so shocking that the trial was closed to the public and the press.
Each victim was stabbed 666 times and the group dismembered the bodies, that were then cooked in bonfires. They ate the victims and the remains were buried in a forest not far from Moscow.
Nikolai Ogolobyak, the leader of the group, was sentenced to 20 years of prison, the longest sentence of the group. Andrei Makovkin, known as “Doctor Goth," was considered insane and is in a psychiatric facility. "What they have carried out does not fit into normal human thinking, because it is horrific," said the prosecutor, Tatyana Rachinskaya.
Robbing one of the most important museums in Europe seems to be the perfect plot for a movie - but it really happened. In 1999, two thieves managed to break into State Russian Museum, in St. Petersburg and ran away with two paintings. Both pieces were signed by Vasily Perov, a realist painter from the 19th century. The thieves knew what they were doing and took “The Solitary Guitarist” and the sketch “Troyka” that together are worth $700,000 USD.
Not everything went smoothly for them that night, since the alarm went off and the security guards appeared. One of them shot the guards and both escaped the crime scene with the paintings. Later the thieves were identified as Zakir Asadullaev and Dmitry Rukavitsin, members of a criminal group specialized in robbing expensive watches and jewelry.
Rukavitsin was sentenced to eight years in prison, while Asadullaev ( who shoot the security guards) was sentenced to fourteen years in prison. The police recovered the paintings and they were returned to the museum.
Irina Gaidamachuk seemed to be an ordinary woman. However, the now 46-year-old mother of two had a dark secret. She was responsible for murdering 17 female pensioners in a period of eight years.
Gaidamachuk, nicknamed “Satan in a Skirt” by the local media, visited elderly people in the Sverdlov region and pretended to be a social worker to gain their trust. Once she was in the house, the woman killed them using an axe or hammer to smash their heads. The killer then took any money and valuable things they had in the house and left the crime scene.
“The proof of her guilt is that during an investigative experiment she pointed out the exact addresses where the crimes took place and described the situation including all the details. In addition, her fingerprints matched the prints left at several murder scenes,” said the investigator Alexander Shulga.
Although the woman claims that the crimes were motivated by money, the greatest amount she stole was $495.
Anatoly Slivko was 23 years old when he witnessed a traffic accident where a young boy was killed in 1961. That would be an overwhelming and traumatic experience to most people, but not Slivko. The image of a boy wearing a Young Pioneers uniform burning aroused the man and he would spend his life recreating the scene.
During more than two decades, the man convinced 43 young boys to take part in a “controlled” hanging until they become unconscious. He used to dismember the bodies and set them on fire, and he enjoyed to take pictures and film his victims.
Police caught him while they were looking for Sergei Pavlov, a 13-year-old boy that went missing. They found a dark room filled with knives, axes, ropes… and pictures of the crime scenes.
Slivko, who was also accused of necrophilia, was executed in 1989.
In December, a video posted on YouTube filmed in the northeastern region of Yakutia went viral and took over the headlines. The video featured a truck driver driving in the direction of a bear while someone shouts “Squash him! Squash him!” in Russian. The brown bear tries to run away, but he can’t go faster than the truck, and it smashes him. Not satisfied, he reverses and goes over the bear again. Surprisingly, it is still alive, but they don’t give up until the animal is dead.
Investigators said that they opened a criminal case and the workers can face up to a year in prison for animal cruelty. “We will strive for the most serious punishment for these scoundrels,” read a post on Russia’s environment minister Sergei Donskoi's Facebook. “Such crimes should be followed by real prison terms!”
It’s not the first time something like that happened in Russia. In 2015, a video showed men feeding a polar bear explosives. They were sentenced to three years in prison.
Domestic violence is a serious problem present in any country and it's no different in Russia.
In 2015, Oleg Belov was accused of killing his six children, his mother, and his pregnant wife. He also dismembered the wife and children. Before the tragic end, the family faced years of violence and abuse.
The wife, Yulia Belov, wrote a letter to the police describing the threats made by her husband: he often said that he would kill and dismember his family. Her initiative could have stopped Belov and avoided the crime. However, the police ignored the complaint.
The Investigative Committee opened a criminal case to investigate the negligence from the police. “The claimants' arguments for several months were left without due investigation, and district police officers, with the agreement of their chiefs, issued decisions declining to open a criminal case," said the Investigative Committee in a statement.
We often see older people as inoffensive and harmless, but those are the last words that can be used to describe Tamara Samsonova, a 68-year-old killer who was called “Granny the Ripper” by the media. The woman kept a diary in three languages where she revealed that she killed 10 people in the last two decades.
The police caught her while investigating her missing tenant. Analyzing the CCTV footage, they saw the granny leaving the building with heavy plastic bags. She didn’t deny the crime and said the crime was motivated because he didn’t wash the dishes and she was afraid of being kicked out of her apartment.
Her plan was to put Xanax in his salad and when he was unconscious he was killed and dismembered. The police found the diary where she confessed the other crimes.
If you are looking for a holiday destination for New Year's Eve this year, perhaps you shouldn’t consider Russia. According to Russia's former chief sanitary inspector Gennady Onishchenko, the holiday period could be named "10 Days of Horror" and there is often an increase of public drunkenness and crimes.
On NYE 2013, a 42-year-old man decided it was a great day to get engaged to a woman he met on the Internet a few weeks earlier. However, the bride-to-be lost her temper when he spilled the salad and stabbed him in the chest. He died a few days later in the hospital.
In the Saratov region, three brothers were getting ready to celebrate with a friend, but two of them passed out before midnight at his house. The brother who was left with the owner of the house wasn’t happy and they started to fight. The host was stabbed to death.