A secret cemetery has recently been discovered in the vicinity of the city of Nizhni Tagil in Russia’s Ural, Komsomolskaya Pravda reports. The cemetery was used by an organized criminal group for burying bodies of women who refused to work as prostitutes for the benefit of the gang. The criminals kept a number of young women in sex slavery. Some of the women agreed to walk the streets; others said no to the gangsters and disappeared. Consequently, the police found several unidentified bodies of young female residents of Nizhni Tagil around the city and its outskirts. The police fear that more bodies may be found.
We first heard the bloodcurdling rumors right at the start of our inquiry into the case of the murdered sex workers in Nizhny Tagil. Speaking in whispers, locals told us that the 15-year-old Lena Chudinova, a daughter of the gang leader Eduard Chudinov, had been found among other victims unearthed in a mass grave near the village of Chudikha. To be honest, we simply refused to buy into the rumors back then.
We began to have a suspicion that the rumor might be true when Tatyana Kustovskaya, a wife of a gang member who recruited girls on the city streets, dropped hints about the mysterious disappearance of Chudinov’s daughter.
“Chudinov is out of his mind, as far as I’m concerned,” said Kustovskaya. “I saw some document from his file (Kustovskaya may have obtained information from the lawyers – ed. note). It was written in black and white: they found the body of his 15-year old daughter among the bodies in that grave near the village…” added Kustovskaya.
The news looked completely improbable. We asked for clarification Nayil Rizvanov, a prosecutor and inspector with the prosecutor’s office of Nizhni Tagil. He has been supervising the official investigation of the case from the very beginning.
“Is it true that Chudinov’s daughter has been found in that grave?”
“Yes, it’s true.”
“How could it happen?”
“I’m at a complete loss to understand that horrible story,” said Rizvanov. “That guy must have turned into an animal. I’m just in a state of shock,” added he and lit a cigarette.
Lena vanished on a hot summer night
Lena Chudinova was a very attractive girl. She burst into bloom of youth after turning 15. Her classmates and teachers have a good recollection of the day she disappeared. It was July 3, 2004. A few days ago Lena got a job at a summer student camp. She wanted to make some money during her vacation.
“Lena didn’t turn up at her work place on the third day. Vika, her elder sister, raised the alarm when she saw Lena’s empty bed in the morning,” said Lyuba, one of the classmates.
Lena and her sister lived with their mother in Kushva, a small town in the Sverdlovskaya region.
Their father, the notorious gang leader Eduard Chudinov, lived with another family in Nizhni Tagil. However, he is said to have visited his daughters frequently, bringing them presents and trinkets.
When she heard the news, Lena’s mother rushed to a police station and reported her daughter as missing.
“We kept hoping against all odds,” said Nadezhda Inkina, a schoolmistress. “We filed an official inquiry to the criminal police. We haven’t had any feedback for more than a year,” added Inkina.
Nobody in town could have imaged that the girl had been brutally murdered by her own father. Chudinov must have been completely off his rocker, otherwise it is impossible to explain why he took her daughter to that horrible place in the forest. Chudinov stripped her clothes off near a hole in the ground where the bodies of other women lay, and then he raped his daughter and strangled her.
Girls were told they would have a good time at a barbecue
Prosecutor Rizvanov gave us more details on that abhorrent crime. He explained why the bandits could safely pass the roadblocks on their way to the crime scene in the woods.
“The girls who refused to become prostitutes would be invited for a barbeque party out in the forest. The girls were taken to that location to be killed and buried in a mass grave,” said Rizvanov.
“Okay. The criminals and the girls were traveling by car from Nizhni Tagil. They had to stop by a traffic police roadblock before crossing the city limits. Why didn’t the girls take the opportunity to cry for help?”
“The girls had no idea that the criminals were going to kill them in the woods! The girls were told that the guys were throwing a barbecue party, you know, some shish kebab and wine on a sunny afternoon. The bastards even fed their victims before killing them…”
As of today, the police have identified fourteen out of fifteen bodies found in the mass grave. Ten victims were the residents of Nizhni Tagil. Eduard Chudinov told the investigators that one of the girls managed to escape from the killers. She has not been found yet.
Does it mean that a body count may be higher than that?
We continue our own inquiry into the case.
The police shelved the reports filed by relatives of the missing women
We requested Oleg Ponasenko, a deputy prosecutor of theSverdlovsk region, to comment on the investigation of the murder of women in Nizhni Tagil.
“Contrary to some reports in the media, the case was not solved by accident. The police mounted an investigation back in 2002 following the discovery of the body of a woman. Two more bodies were found in the course of the investigation. No suspects were found. One more body was found later. Then a regional prosecutor instructed us to investigate all those murders as one case.
We were given reinforcements from the special police units specialized in fighting against the organized crime groups.
Finally, we tracked down and arrested a criminal group comprising eight men. Those suspects were charged with committing premeditated murder of fifteen women. Forensic specialists determined the cause of death of the victims. Most of them were killed by strangulation; others sustained deadly injuries of the head. All the victims but one were identified. Our specialists are currently working to identify the last victim. I believe we’ll be able to identify her very soon”
“Fifteen girls were murdered by the criminals. Is the number final or subject to change?”
“I’d rather not answer this question.”
“All the girls but two were reported as missing by the relatives. Did the police really make an effort to locate them? Did the reports filed by their relatives end up shelved?”
“Last year the prosecutor’s office instituted more than two hundred actions against the officials who denied the requests for the search of the missing persons. Some of the cases were already referred to the court. Many missing persons have been found since then, therefore some cases were closed. There were 4,500 persons on our list of missing persons last year. We’ve already found 2,500 persons.”
Translated by Guerman Grachev