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Alexander KOMIN






A.K.A.: "The Vyatka Maniac"
Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Rape - Kidnapping - Obsessed with a idea of making an underground colony for female slaves
Number of victims: 4
Date of murders: 1995 - 1997
Date of arrest: January 21, 1997
Date of birth: 1953
Victims profile: Vera Tolpayeva / Nikolai Malykh / Tatyana Nazimova, 28 / Yevgeny Shishov
Method of murder: Poisoning (antifreeze) / Electrocution
Location: Vyatskiye Polyany, Kirov Region, Russia
Status: Sentenced to life imprisonment. Commited suicide in prison on June 15, 1999

Sex-Slave Case Underscores Low Status of Women in Russia

By Alessandra Stanley

New York Times - 28 August 1997

VYATSKIYE POLYANY, Russia -- When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, some of the luckier residents of this town got a chance to own their garages. Most used the metal shacks to store car-parts, farm equipment, and potatoes. Alexander Komin, 44, an electrician, used his to dig himself an underground colony for female slaves. 

By his own admission, Komin lured homeless women and kept them chained in a 100-square-foot bunker buried 40 feet deep. He starved, beat, and had sex with his captives. By the time he was arrested on July 21, two men and two women had been murdered. Two of the three women who survived had the word "slave" crudely tatooed on their foreheads. 

Komin had a utilitarian streak: he installed three sewing machines and put his captives to work stitching underwear, flowered housecoats, and oven mitts that he sold all over town. 

Everyone in Vyatskiye Polyany, an industrial town of 40,000 people 600 miles east of Moscow, was horrified by the secret life of Komin, who was well liked. But few expressed much pity for his captives. 

"A normal woman would never have survived such conditions," Nadezhda Kamskaya explained tartly. "A normal woman would either have died or killed the man." 

Almost all the victims had a trail of broken marriages and abandoned children, and at least one has a prison record. 

Mrs. Kamskaya's view is widely shared. Russia is a society untouched by contemporary notions of women's solidarity and victims' rights. Like thousands of provincial towns in the former Soviet Union, Vyatskiye Polyany is a tight-knit community in surly decline. Half the workers at the local armaments factory have been laid off; the other half get their wages -- $50 a month -- months late. Almost everybody in town is struggling to stay even. There is little sympathy for the neighbors who slip through the cracks. 

When Tatyana Melnikova, 37, and Tatyana Kozikova, 38, first showed their tattooed faces on local television, the municipal authorities opened bank accounts for them so viewers could donate the $400 it will cost to get the tattoos removed. So far, not a single ruble has been deposited on their behalf. 

Both women, and the third survivor, Irina Ganushina, 23, have returned to a so-called normal life. Mrs. Ganushina, who was lured to Komin's garage on March 1, spent three months in the bunker until Komin decided to marry her. He brought her back up above ground, settled her in his apartment, and bought her a wedding dress. When she found a chance to get away from him, she went to the police. 

She now lives with her mother and her 3-year-old daughter. Mrs. Melnikova and Mrs. Kozikova camp together in one room of a communal apartment belonging to Mrs. Melnikova's mother. 

Komin sits in an iron cage in a cell in a police office a quarter of a mile away, awaiting trial on murder and kidnapping charges. Russia has put a moratorium on the death penalty, so he faces 25 years to life in prison. 

Komin and his captives alike recount their stories without much emotion. A small, wiry man with an engaging smile and bright blue eyes, Komin sat calmly in his cell wearing brown sneakers with the laces removed and expressed no remorse. 

"I am sorry that I didn't get a chance to marry Irina or finish my underground dream," he said -- to expand his bunker by adding several more rooms and a real bathroom. 

He also said he felt he was doing his victims a favor. "These were unemployed, homeless women," he said. "I gave them a place to live and a steady job." 

Komin said he had felt weighed down by the responsibility of keeping his underground workshop going. "Every day," he said, "I had to think about them, think about feeding them." 

He said the beatings and tattoos were necessary: "When they tried to escape, they had to be punished. After that, I guess they did fear me." 

Komin, who spent three years in jail for hooliganism in the early 1970s and learned the sewing trade in prison, does not think he is insane. "Of course, such a crazy idea would not come to a normal man," he said. "But still, I think I am normal." 

His dream dwelling consisted of two tiny, cramped, damp, and filthy rooms -- three bunks in one, and a television set and three sewing machines in the other. When Komin arrived each morning, a light would go on -- a signal for his slaves to put metal wires attached to the wall around their necks, lock them, and place the key where he could see it. 

Mostly, the decor suggests Komin's odd fantasies. Pornographic pinups adorn most walls, alongside hand-sewn crosses and icons. On the wall above the lowest bunk bed, the victims had pasted their own sources of inspiration: pictures of the Madonna and Child and photographs of Harrison Ford and Barry Manilow. 

Three trapdoors separated the bunker from freedom, the sturdiest stolen from a military base. The steel ladder to the floor of his garage was electrified to prevent escape. 

It took Komin and an accomplice, Alexander Mikheyev, four years to dig the bunker and shaft. Mikheyev, 30, a local security guard, is also under arrest. 

The first victim was a neighbor, Vera Tolpayeva, who came to the bunker in the summer of 1995 after a drinking bout with Komin. She helped him lure an acquaintance, Tatyana Melnikova, and her boyfriend, Nikolai Malykh, both experienced tailors, to the bunker. Malykh was poisoned, his body dumped in a nearby field. Later, Mrs. Tolpayeva fell from favor and was forced to choose either to drink antifreeze or have it injected in her veins. She chose the former, and died as the two Tatyanas looked on. 

Tatyana Kozikova, a cook from Ulyanovsk, had served two years in jail there, and in July 1995 eagerly accepted Komin's offer of a drink and a job. 

Yet another woman, Tatyana Nazimova, 28, known as Oksana, was picked up in a railway station in 1996, but she turned out to have leukemia and no work ethic. She, too, died of antifreeze poisoning. Yevgeny Shishov, a former paratrooper whom Komin recruited to help him expand the bunker, was later electrocuted. Their bodies, like Malykh's, were dumped in abandoned fields. The police initially assumed all the victims died of alcohol poisoning from moonshine vodka, a common cause of death in the provinces. 

Mrs. Kozikova is angry at Komin, not just for what he did, but for what he now tells reporters and police officers. "He is trying to convince people that we wanted to be there, that we liked it," she said indignantly. "I hated him." 

She said they begged him for better food than potatoes and bread -- she personally craved a slice of cake -- but he refused. She said he did once offer to cut up Mrs. Nazimova's body and let them eat a part of it. 

The only kindness she could recall was that he once brought her a book she asked for, a romantic biography of Napoleon and Josephine. 

Mrs. Kozikova said she didn't fall apart when the police took her back into the bunker during their investigation. "I didn't feel like crying," she said. "I just could not believe that I lived there for two years." 


Japan TV Shocked With Vyatka Maniac


Komin was obsessed with a strange idea of making an underground city; he persistently burrowed the rocky soil and cherished a dream of making an underground menagerie

Six years ago first publications about a maniac in Russia's Vyatka area appeared; the man kept prisoners in a deep cave for two and a half years. The story shocked the whole of the country. However, the scandal still draws attention.

A young journalist from the local television worked together with the crew of Japanís NTV television that made documentaries about maniacs of the 20th century. Every week Japan's program "Prostory" (Open Spaces) shows two films from the series Maniacs of the 20th Century. Now the television crew is working in three countries simultaneously. Last week the TV crew came to Vyatka, the capital of Russia's Kirov Region.

The Russian journalist who worked together with Japanese journalists states: "I couldn't even guess that I would have to come down into the terrible cave that was about 15 meters deep. I don't think I will ever have a chance to see such things once again. The descending was an ordeal for my nerves."

In July 1997, the whole of the world was shocked with a publication saying that a secret bunker was discovered in a garage in the city of Vyatskiye Polyany in the Kirov Region. It was a cave where a man kept other people enslaved. The prisoners were shackled; the deep cave was a tiny underground sewing workshop, a kitchen, a toilet and a torture chamber at the same time.

As soon as mass media learnt about two women whom the torturer kept in the cave for two and a half years away from the daylight, journalists of central Russian and foreign media started visiting Vyatskiye Polyany.

Japan was probably the last to learn about the scandalous story, as first publications about the torturer (his name was Alexander Komin) appeared six years ago. As soon as Komin learnt the sentence the court passed on him, he killed himself in a preliminary confinement ward.

The scenario of a film about Komin was written already in Japan. The television crew even wanted to bring Japanese actors for participation in the film, but later changed their mind. Actors from a local amateur theatre helped the Japanese TV crew make the film about the torturer; they also helped make scenery of the bunker where the most dramatic episodes of the film were taken.

The 44-year-old bastard kept Tatyana Melnikova for two and a half years and Tatyana Kozikova for two years in the cave that was over 12 meters deep. One more horizontal bunker locked with a metal door branched off the cave.

Following a devilish whim, Komin tattooed the word "SLAVE" on the foreheads of the women. He liked to collar and to shackle his slaves; he beat them with a rubber hose and raped. Nobody outside the garage could hear cries of the people enslaved in the cave, as the depth of the bunker muffled the sounds. The man connected a staircase to the current so that the slaves couldnít get out of the bunker.

The tiny room with a very low ceiling and partitioned off with a thin wall was the scenery for the terrible tragedy that lasted for several months. The Japanese television agrees that they won't be able to reproduce the whole of the story authentically; they say it is not their main objective. They are making a documentary, not a long-form thriller.

Journalists called Alexander Komin a devil incarnate, a monster and a maniac; indeed, he was too cruel towards the people whom he kept prisoners. He even cruelly executed four of them; the rest couldn't resist, they just had to live in accordance with the law of the hell.

Accomplice of Komin, Alexander Mikheyev was never present at the executions, but he saw how Komin tortured the people and helped him do away with the dead bodies of the executed.

Komin was obsessed with a strange idea of making an underground city; he persistently burrowed the rocky soil and cherished a dream of making an underground menagerie. He wanted to breed black cats in the menagerie and had an idea to make souvenir pictures from cats' fells. The man was a real devil in the flesh.

On one of the cave walls there was a picture with a devil dressed like a sultan in it; the devil had a whip with which he lashed a concubine from his harem. It was Komin's best picture; he prohibited to take it off. However, the maniac didn't object when the slaves tore one more picture out of a magazine and attached it to the same wall. An inscription on the picture said: "Zombie is the utmost evil"; the man was flattered with such a characteristic addressed to him.

Although the man is already dead, the poor women whom Komin kept prisoners still consider him the devil incarnate. It was a quirk of fate but the maniac was buried close to the grave of Tatyana Kozikova's father (the woman was one of his slaves).

The woman tells that when her mother came to the husband's grave, she nearly fainted when noticed that maniac Alexander Komin was buried there as well. "It is strange that the church allowed to bury the killer on the same cemetery with other people."

Alfinur Gilmutdinova
Vyatsky Krai



Alexander Komin


Tatyana Melnikova was held captive by a maniac in Vyatskie Polyany. She died in poverty before receiving any assistance from the state.



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