The 47-year-old Anatoly Titsky built a “maximum security correctional facility” in the depths of a forest for his wife and five children. For almost two years, the sadist held members of his family inside the prison fenced off with barbed wire. Watchdogs were guarding the camp night and day.
Titsky dug a shelter in the ground after finding a place deep in the woods. He then enclosed it by a barbwire fence and attached the small red flags to a line around the perimeter. He also put up a sign that read “Restricted Area.” To keep his next of kin within the confines of an improvised concentration camp, Titsky chained up 20 ferocious watchdogs around the perimeter.
“The dogs would start barking every time his wife or children approached those red flags. The prisoners didn’t have a single chance of getting away from that place,” said Nadezhda Shestakova, head of the juvenile delinquency section at the police department in the town of Tashtagol.
The police learned of the forest prison by chance. A local mushroom picker turned up at the police office one day and told them a horrifying story.
“I had a real close shave out there. The whole place looks like a prison compound. Those red flags marking the limits, the dogs foaming at the mouth… More importantly, I spotted children behind the barbed wire. I reckon some kind of a child molester may be hiding out in that lair,” the eyewitness said.
His story came as a shock. The police team set off on a trip to the forest within minutes.
“We spent the whole day in the forest searching for that prison. We couldn’t get in. Those dogs kept us at bay. So we got back to the police station to pick up our submachine guns. We had to storm the concentration camp; otherwise the dogs could have torn us into shreds. We found nobody by Titsky hiding underground when we climbed inside. As it turned out, the father saw the armed men closing in and ordered his children to run away into the forest. ‘Take cover or you’re gonna get shot!’ he cried out to scare them away,” said Dmitry Altunin, one of the local policemen who took part in the raid.
Once the policemen got inside the shelter, they felt nauseous at the sight of nightmare. The air was thick with a stench of rotting garbage. Pieces of dirty rags were scattered around the floor. The kids used the rags to keep themselves warm during the winter. A family of seven, their chickens and geese had to share a small room measuring 15 square meters. There was no furniture in the room save for a homemade table and a double-deck bed. The policemen found out that the four girls slept on the upper deck. Titsky, his 17-year-old son and his wife used the lower deck.
Titsky burst into tears during the first interrogation session. He claimed that he had taken his wife and kids into the woods for security reasons.
“Living in the taiga isn’t savagery. Savagery is when you live among humans. Man is a wolf to a man. This world is full of malice and hate...”
“Don’t you realize that you condemned your wife and children to a life of misery?”
“The Lykovs, the Old Believers, also choose to live in the taiga in their time,” Titsky told the investigators. “I decided to follow suit. However, I educated my children in my own way.
In times like this children should be brought up in harsh conditions from the very start so that they may be ready to face any challenge…”
“But you put them through a great deal of suffering! You kept them in captivity for no reason at all!”
“I admit to being strict with my children. But I was fair and square in my methods. I love my wife and children.”
The Titskys have five children, one boy and four girls. Sasha is 17 years old. Vera is 14, Polina is 13, Valentina is 12. Kristina, their youngest daughter, is just 5 years old.
“From my point of view, the so-called educational methods favored by Titsky befit a concentration camp. He tried to convince us that he’d used them to educate his offspring in the right way. As a result, the kids got scared to death. He demanded that they follow his orders unquestioningly. The children worked every day at a huge plot of land (about 4 acres – ed. note) owned by the family. They grew potatoes, squashes and pumpkins,” Officer Altunin said.
The children were told to start and finish their day by praying. In fact, they would pray night and day. They would ask the Lord to send them bread and meekness – they did as they were told by their father. Their father would lecture them on morals every night for hours. It does not matter whether it was raining or snowing outside. The kids would be seated on tree stumps near the shelter to learn Old Church Slavonic under the supervision of their father. Titsky was watching their every step. He believed he should keep control over everything. He effectively terrified both his wife and children.
The poor creatures were taken to an orphanage. For the first time in two years, the children were able to take a hot shower, eat decent meals and sleep on beds covered with clean white sheets. Their father came to visit them one day later. He brought them present – a goose. And he begged for forgiveness. “Please forgive me. Now I know I made a mistake,” said Titsky.
Despite his public display of repentance, Titsky was stripped of his parental rights. However, the authorities allowed the children to reunite with their parents some time later. The kids made it clear that they would be better off living with their mom and dad. Now they are living in the village. The say they have a dream – they want to get back to the taiga when they grow up.
Translated by Guerman Grachev