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Feature Story February 6, 2008
 
Russia's Sex Slave Graveyard
Over the Urals and through the woods to the mother of all Russian crime stories By Yasha Levine & Alexander Zaitchik Browse author
 
The guy on the left in the Santa suit is responsbile for up to fifty murdered sex slaves, including his own daughter
 

A version of this article first appeared in the February 2008 issue of Penthouse magazine.

NIZHNY TAGIL — Last March, The eXile reported a story so shocking and so gruesome that it made every other item in the Russian crime catalog seem like a parking violation. If you read the story, you remember it. A mass grave containing the mutilated remains of more than a dozen teenage sex slaves was unearthed in a forest outside Nizhny Tagil, an industrial city of 400,000 just east of the southern Urals. The young victims were linked to a local prostitution ring that had been kidnapping, enslaving and killing local girls for five years. Even by Russian crime standards, the story jumped out, blacker than pitch and colder than a snow-frosted corpse.

There were remarkably few follow-ups to the discovery, first reported in the Yekaterinburg edition of Komsomolskaya Pravda. While the Bittsevsky Maniac was working on his Chikatilo rerun, earning top billing in the Russian press and beyond when caught, the Sex Slaves of Nizhny Tagil were killed a second time by an uninterested and jaded media. Most Russian papers merely allotted an in-brief blurb to the mass murder. Aside from our short report, the Guardian was the only other English language outlet to mention the crime. Komsomolskaya Pravda was the only Russian daily that delved into the nitty-gritty and asked why it went unsolved for so long.

The remains of Olya and Vika, both 13 years old, were identified and their deaths linked to the sex slave ring

In July, we traveled east to find out exactly what happened in Nizhny Tagil. What we found was a story of mind-bending cruelty and epic police negligence, wrapped up in a searing multi-dimensional indictment of Russian society.

Nizhny Tagil is a natural backdrop for the crime, a city that lives up to and beyond its tough reputation. Tagil is known best for two things: the smoke belching ironworks that crowd its southern and eastern skylines, and the maximum-security prisons that surround it like institutional scarecrows. (Jailed former Yukos chairman Mikhail Khodorkovsky was originally sentenced to one of Tagil’s brutal zonas, but the authorities changed their minds and sent him to Siberia instead.) Mining, the city’s main industry for centuries, all but collapsed with the USSR. Like many provincial Russian cities, it has bounced back a bit in recent years, but not by much. Homeless and scabby babushkas sit crowd curbs clutching plastic bottles of bathtub vodka. Vicious street fights are common. The roads look like a war zone—potholed, cracked, decrepit and completely empty by 10 p.m. At night, an air raid siren soundtrack is the only thing that seems to be missing.

On our first night in town, we searched in vain for an hour to find a place to get a drink along the empty downtown streets. Eventually we stumbled on a small and smoky basement joint called the Caspi. We didn’t know it at the time, but the bar played a major role in the very crime we were researching. We should have guessed. The clientele was grizzled to the point of being a caricature of the provincial low-rent Russian underworld: the men were dressed in track suits and covered with blurry prison tattoos. The women were blank-eyed and poorly made-up in cheap designer knock-offs. There was one fellow with a full-body burn scar sitting alone in the corner. It was a criminal bar, the only late-night option in Russia's most notorious prison town. Most Tagil residents have only one-degree of separation from the jails; they are either ex-cons or the children or spouses of ex-cons. Prisoners are often released with nothing—not even train fare—and so stick around the city simply because they have nowhere else to go.


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FROM THE VAULT
Moron 5 - Adam Levine
Letter from Moron 5's Lawyer :

Moskva's Kino Kalendar :
Will you be her pension?
Diktionary : eXile word of the day
Dancing
Katz 2.0 @ Version 1.0 :
 

 
 
 
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