Thursday, October 31, 2013

Window on Eurasia: Where Beria’s Limo Still Runs But Isn’t Seen – Moscow at Halloween

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 31 – Muscovites interested in ghosts don’t need to go to Transylvania. They can find plenty right at home this Halloween, even if many in the Russian Orthodox Church and Russian government denounce this holiday as alien and “extremist” ( and

            In an article on yesterday, Artur Mulyukov and Kirill Zhuravlyov survey what they describe as “someof the most mystical and dangerous places” in Moscow” which the two journalists say in turn is one of the mostmysterious and anomalous European cities” (

            The two describe the legends surrounding a black cat on Tverskaya, one that some residents swear appears every midnight and others say was an inspiration for Mikhail Bulgakov’s Behemoth in “The Master and Margarita.”  They also say that elsewhere there are whole families of ghost cats.

            Some of these ghosts are more topical, Mulyukov and Zhuravlyov say.  There is the case of a pre-1917 couple who built up their wealth only to see it stolen away. When they discovered their loss, these greedy people fell down dead, but their voices can be heard even now “Oh, my little money, my little money” they are reporte to say in the dead of night.

            But the most frightening ghost of all can’t even be seen, the two journalists say. In front of Malaya Nikitskaya Street, no. 28, near the Barricade metro, the sound of a car approaching can be heard when it is completely quiet late at night.  That car, residents say, is the limousine of Lavrenty Beriya, Stalin’s notorious secret police chief.

            According to neighbors, the car, which they say sounds like a Soviet-era ZIL, can be heard stopping at Beria’s door, releasing passengers and moving off.  Some residents say they can hear the screams of “enemies of the people” being tortured, but that is clearly an invention, the journalists say. The NKVD man didn’t do torture at home.   

            But they add that the screams of young women from the building that some nearby residents occasionally report could be real: “Beria brought to his apartment not a few women, and some of them against their will.”

            Mulyukov and Zhuravlyov conclude their brief article by noting that there are no many ghost tours in the Russian capital for those who are interested. They suggest that it is “best not to joke” about such phenomenon because those who do often come to unhappy ends. “The most secure method for ghost hunters is literature, the Internet and a good imagination.”

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