PUTIN SENDS A CANNIBAL TO FIGHT IN UKRAINE

The war in the Ukraine has been one of the dominant news stories of 2022. At the time of the invasion in February 2022, Russia, a supposed military superpower, was expected to crush the much smaller Ukrainian military and swallow up the country in a matter of days. Cannibalise it, one might say.

However, the reality, after months of fighting, was that Russia did not achieve a quick victory, and might not even keep the territory it has taken. In the meantime, both sides have suffered significant losses of fighters, equipment and infrastructure. The Ukrainians estimated in mid-September that over 50,000 Russian soldiers have been killed so far.

The news this month (September 2022) is that Russia has mobilised around 300,000 “reservists” – civilians who have completed their mandatory military service, but will now be dragged back into uniform. There are two million reservists in Russia, so this is only a partial mobilisation, but it shows a level of desperation in Putin’s war machine.

But it turns out that Russia has been boosting the number of soldiers for some time, by recruiting within its worst maximum-security prisons.

A mercenary army called The Wagner Group deployed to the Ukraine back in 2014 to help pro-Russian separatists fight Ukrainian forces. British military intelligence reports that there are 1,000 mercenaries fighting there. The group has also been active in Syria and Africa, and has repeatedly been accused of war crimes and human rights abuses. They are now fighting alongside Russian regular troops in the Donbas region.

A BBC investigation identified Yevgeny Prigozhin, an oligarch known as “Putin’s chef” – so-called because he rose from being a restaurateur and caterer for the Kremlin – as a key figure in the Wagner Group. Many of Mr Prigozhin’s companies are currently under US sanctions for what it calls his “malign political and economic influence around the globe”. He has denied any connection with the Wagner Group.

Now a leading expert in Russia’s prison system, Olga Romanova, in the media group “Vazhnye istorii” (Важные истории or Important Stories) has reported that prisoners from the jails around St. Petersburg are being recruited to go to war in Ukraine as part of the “Wagner” army. Romanova states that Prigozhin has been visiting Russian prison camps in order to enlist convicted criminals to fight in Ukraine, according to accounts from military analysts and videos that have emerged on Telegram from Russian prisons. Romanova told The Daily Beast website:

“Putin’s plan is to recruit at least 50,000 convicts and Prigozhin, who is an ex-convict himself, has already sent more than 3,000 [including] serial murderers, robbers and at least one cannibal.”

Relatives of the prisoners report that the inmates are being promised that if the “volunteer” dies, they will pay the family 5 million roubles. If they live for six months of “service”, they will receive a payment of 200,000 roubles and a full pardon. A chilling thought for the victims (and their relatives) of the crimes which caused them to be in the prison camps!

“In 1/2 a year you go home with a pardon… there’s no way you end up back in prison. Those who arrive on the first day and don’t like where they’ve ended up are considered deserters and get shot.”

In Ukraine, Prigozin’s army is often referred to as an “army of orcs and goblins,” a reference to Lord of the Rings. “They take everyone, no matter what they are in prison for,” said Romanova in a video on the “Popular Politics” YouTube channel, as translated by The New Voice of Ukraine.

“They took a maniac who, so to speak, has cannibalism in his portfolio. He was also sent to war.”

Now authoritative sources (Twitter) tells us that the cannibal who has been recruited by the Wagner Group for the war in Ukraine is none other than Yegor Komarov, about whom this blog reported in December 2021. Komarov had been arrested in the town of Sortavala (near the Finnish border) after running from his crashed car, from the boot of which had tumbled a headless corpse. Komarov admitted to being a cannibal and stated that he ‘likes killing people’. He confessed to stabbing and killing another man in a park in St Petersburg the previous year for the sole purpose of tasting human flesh, and said he had sliced off the tongue and fried it in butter.

He sounds like a perfect guest at a dinner party for Putin, catered of course by Prigozhin, “Putin’s chef”.

Cannibalism in the Ukraine: GHOUL (Petr Jákl, 2015)

Ghoul is a “found footage” movie, a postmodern affectation that pretends it is a documentary that has been ‘found’ after some gruesome disaster. The genre was popularised (although not originated) by the Blair Witch Project in 1999 which, like Ghoul, had young film-makers heading off to investigate the paranormal, and wishing they hadn’t. One of its most famous antecedents was Cannibal Holocaust in 1980, which was purportedly a documentary about missing documentary makers, and was (purportedly) believable enough to lead to a court case in which the actors had to be produced to prove they had not in fact been killed in some sort of snuff movie. This was of course great publicity for the film, as was the fact that it had been banned in several jurisdictions. The very first film in the genre was probably Punishment Park in 1971, in which anti-Vietnam War demonstrators are supposedly dropped in the desert and hunted by Nixon’s cops.

The main point of interest in this film (the found footage itself being unoriginal and totally preposterous) is the fact that it is set in The Ukraine which, at the time of writing, is again suffering from decisions taken in Moscow. The “Holodomor” (literally “murder by starvation”) was an event that took place in the Ukraine in 1932-3, during which the population was deliberately decimated by the collectivisation of the farms and seizure of food stores. As starvation set in, corpses began to disappear, and the government response was simply to put up signs saying, “Eating dead children is barbarism”. Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands, the history of Nazi and Soviet mass murders between the wars, examines the incidents of cannibalism in the Ukraine and Poland, and concludes “With starvation will come cannibalism”. When there is no bread or other meat, human flesh becomes the currency. Snyder describes several reports, including an orphanage in Kharkiv where the older children began eating the youngest, who himself joined in, “tearing strips from himself and eating them, he ate as much as he could.”

Pretty difficult to invent a story worse than such a reality. So to add some spice, we have in Ghoul an amateur film crew from America who are fascinated by cannibalism (as, apparently, are very many people: this blog is currently receiving over 10,000 views per month – THANK YOU for reading!) They are researching evidence of cannibalism during the Holodomor, as part of a planned television series on cannibals of the twentieth century. They are conducting interviews in Kyiv of elderly survivors of that time, but they are also hoping to interview a man named Boris who was arrested rather more recently for eating a colleague, confessed to the crime under hypnosis, but then was released, as the body was never found. He said that he was made to do it. By whom, they wonder.

The crew are taken to a local psychic/witch, who tells them that paranormal entities were behind that murder. The crew dismisses this as superstition, getting drunk and getting her to perform a séance involving a pentagram, in which they mockingly summon the ghost of Andrei Chikatilo, a notorious serial killer and cannibal who killed and partially consumed dozens of women and children in the late 1970s and 1980s.

The next morning is full of strange and uncanny events, but the crew are unable to leave for help. The Ukrainian psychic tries but fails to evict Chikatilo’s presence, with no luck: he’s back now, and killing again. The idea is that Chikatilo forced Boris, their reluctant interviewee, to kill and eat his victim. He possesses (as in takes over the body of) a cat, then Boris, who proceeds to chase the young filmmakers, screaming, through various dark, gothic passages.

WTF? (Or що за біса as they say in The Ukraine). The film’s poster (below) says “INSPIRED BY TRUE EVENTS”. But where is the connection between Stalin’s attempted genocide in the 1930s and the ghost of a cannibal who had been active in Russia in the 1970s and 80s and was executed by a bullet behind his ear in 1994? Well, turns out Chikatilo had a brother that disappeared during the famine, and his ever-loving mummy told him the brother had been kidnapped and eaten. This may have just been to make him behave better (spoiler: didn’t work very well). So anyway, he decided to become a cannibal, specialising in small children. A real piece of work, and not one you’d want to reawaken from the dead.

I find hand-held filming annoying even in the hands of an expert, and this lot are supposed to be a bit sloppy, so the picture is jumping all over the place, to the point of seasickness. Reminds me of my dad’s Super-8 home movies (although he didn’t have a cannibal ghost to film, just bored kids). If you are patient enough to put up with the soundtrack (annoying bangs meant to scare you) and the shaky camera, the concept of a massacre being presented through the dispassionate eye of a video camera is interesting, in that it could be interpreted as the way the universe indifferently watches the suffering of its animals as they eat each other or, more immediately, the way the world watches as Russia tries to cannibalise Ukraine.

But besides the irritating camera work and the noisy things that go bump in the night, the plot is absurd – you have a historical tragedy, an imaginary murderer and the supposed ghost of a real murderer, who is somehow able to take over cats, people (including during sex) and of course kill people. The whole thing is frankly a bit of a yawn. It somehow managed to get to 22% on Rotten Tomatoes, with the LA Times critic summing it up well:

“Ghoul” can’t decide whether it should be about cannibals, serial killers, ghosts or demons. The found footage trivializes rather than reflects the horrific events that serve as the film’s basis.

According to IMDB, Ghoul was the highest grossing horror in Czech history. It also won the Vicious Cat Award at the Grossmann film and wine festival. Not sure if that will impress you or not.

The full movie was available on YouTube last time I checked, but all the dialog is in Czech and Ukrainian. Even if you speak both fluently, I wouldn’t bother.

Cannibal news: Russia, 2021, “I fried it in butter”

Russia is a big place, and has a population of around 144 million, so we could expect some cannibal news to come out of there. But two stories in one month is a new record.

Last week’s story concerned Vladimir Yadne who ate three people in Gaz-Sale in northern Russia, up near the Arctic Circle. This new case is 4,300 km (2,700 miles) west, near the border with Finland.

A suspect identified as Yegor Komarov, 23, has been arrested in Sortavala, Northern Russia, following a car accident on November 22, 2021, in which he crashed into a road safety barrier and a headless body fell out of his car boot, according to the news agency Tass.

Komarov and two other men fled into a nearby forest after the crash, leaving behind spades, ropes and sacks in the car boot.

After he was apprehended, Komarov admitted to being a cannibal and stated that he ‘likes killing people’. He confessed to stabbing and killing another man in a park in Sosnovka Park St Petersburg last year for the sole purpose of tasting human flesh, and said he had sliced off the tongue and fried it in butter before disposing of the body.

“When he died, I gutted his neck and tasted the blood and meat. However, because the knife was blunt, cutting the meat was difficult, and the taste of his veins was unpleasant. But I probably would have liked another part of the body.”

He said he regretted killing that victim:

“I killed that one in Sosnovka in vain, It turned out he was not tasty.”

A video of the court hearing was leaked to social media:

“I nibbled to just take a taste.”
“Are you ready to eat a human again?”
“Do you have some?”

Online media 47news reported that during the interrogation police took Komarov’s handcuffs off, and he screamed: “What are you doing, I can bite you to death!”
“Police thanked Komarov for his confession, twisted his arms behind this time and put the handcuffs back on,” the report said.

Komarov is interested in ‘anarcho-primitivism,’ ‘elixirs of immortality,’ and psychedelic music, according to his social media profile on the Russian site VKontakte.

One comment on social media said:

“You walk on the streets, stroll in the parks without any clue that some pedestrian who looks like an ordinary man, could turn out to be a man eater”

Such is the nature of modern, domestic cannibalism. To the contemporary cannibal, humans are just one more animal, and if you are going to eat pigs or cows, why not add one more mammal to the menu? Fried in butter of course.

Human meat with a vodka chaser: The SIBERIAN CANNIBAL, Nov. 2021

You don’t often see Siberia in the news, particularly remote towns like Gaz-Sale. But this month (November 16, 2021 to be precise) it made a splash on news sites, with the sentencing of Vladimir Yadne for killing three people and eating their flesh, washed down with vodka.

The murders took place on March 6, 2021. The court heard that Yadne had gone out to buy some hard liquor when, on his way home, he saw a 51-year-old man and 59-year-old woman embracing. It is not clear if he knew them – the total population of the town is 1,800 so it is quite possible. At any rate, he got into an argument with them, and then stabbed them both to death.

Gaz-Sale, Siberia

Feeling hungry, perhaps from all the exertion, Yadne then cut pieces from the bodies and ate them raw, with his vodka, according to Inna Nosova, the head of the criminal justice department in Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Region.

“He came in with alcohol on him, and drank it as he was eating the meat.”

Apparently finding the taste to his liking, Yadne later that night stabbed to death another 52-year-old man and ate some of his flesh too. He then tried to dump the bodies (or what was left) but was arrested a few hours later, after police found them. He confessed to the murders and even helped police by recreating the crimes.

Yadne recreates the killings

He underwent psychiatric evaluation, which determined that, at the time of committing the crimes, Yadne was ‘sane’.

Vladimir Yadne

The case has at least put Gaz-Sale on the map, with reports in the British tabloid press, US news services, Hindi Newstrack and even withinnigeria.com. One way to get famous I guess. The really fascinating question for me relates to the role of cannibalism in determining the newsworthiness of a story. A man who killed three people in northern Siberia would barely rate a mention in a Russian news outlet, let alone on websites all around the world. Take a bite of the corpses, though, with or without vodka, and everyone wants to know. The conclusion has to be that we are more interested in what happens to dead bodies than living ones.

Yadne has been sentenced to life in a very uncomfortable Siberian prison colony.

Cannibal News – THE ARKHANGELSK CANNIBAL sentenced to life imprisonment

The Russian Supreme Court has just confirmed the sentence of life imprisonment on Eduard Seleznev, known as the “Arkhangelsk Cannibal”, who killed and ate the flesh of three men.

Seleznev killed three of his friends aged 59, 43 and 34 between March 2016 and March 2017, getting them drunk and then stabbing them to death. He admitted the murders, and added that he had then sliced their bodies up, kept the meat in plastic bags, and disposed of the bodies in the Volokhnitsa river. He subsequently boiled and ate the flesh.

Psychiatrists advised the court that they had found him to be sane and responsible for his actions, and he was sentenced to life imprisonment, but appealed to the Supreme Court, which has just this week confirmed the earlier sentence and advised that he should never be paroled. He was ordered to pay over one million roubles (roughly $14,000 USD) in compensation to the victims’ families.

The parents of one of the victims had gone looking for their son but found Seleznev living in the man’s flat. After murdering and eating the man’s flesh, Seleznev had decided to stay in the flat and started working at a local meat processing plant. Seleznev told the parents that the man had moved to St. Petersburg, but the family members found odd-looking unpackaged meat lying on the floor. Understandably suspicious, they went to the police.

Seleznev apparently had been convicted for a double murder previously but been released after thirteen years in jail in 2000, and had lived in basements, where he caught and cooked local cats, dogs, birds and other small animals found on the streets. Murder of humans is very often preceded by slaughter of other animals. It is not surprising that Seleznev killed dogs, cats and birds or chose to work in a slaughterhouse.

The sociopathic personality usually develops in early childhood or adolescence and is classified under the diagnosis of “conduct disorder,” which then develops into “anti-social personality disorder” (both of these are listed in the DSM). One of the early signs of a conduct disorder is often cruelty to animals.

Like most jurisdictions, cannibalism is not listed in the Russian criminal code, so Seleznev was charged with murder and misusing the victims’ body parts. To the cannibal, of course, burying good meat is misuse, while eating could be considered – sustainable harvesting?

For more cannibal news, check out https://thecannibalguy.com/category/on-cannibals/

Cannibal hunter: “CHILD 44” (Espinosa, 2015)

Most cannibal movies are about the cannibal, but Child 44 is almost entirely about the cannibal-hunter. He is a member of Stalin’s secret police, the MGB, the predecessor of the KGB, and the movie is set in the last days of the Stalinist terror. The perp is torturing and killing children and surgically removing their organs, so our hero wants to, like, stop him. There is an administrative problem though: in the Socialist Paradise of the USSR, there is no such thing as murder; it is a capitalist crime. So the first case is put down as a train accident. Then there are 43 more – thus the title.

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The film is based on the bestselling book by Tom Rob Smith, the first of a trilogy featuring former MGB Agent Leo Demidov. In the film, Leo is played by the English actor Tom Hardy, with a convincing mix of power and vulnerability that carries an otherwise rather overlong production. Leo is a war hero who planted the red flag on the Reichstag after the conquest of Berlin, and is now a senior investigator.

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One of his friends from the Berlin days, Alexei (Fares Fares), also a MGB officer, finds that his little boy has been brutally murdered, but Leo has to persuade him to accept the official explanation that he was hit by a train.

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The antagonist (not the killer, we barely see more than his legs or arms until half way through the film) is another veteran of Berlin named Vasili (Joel Kinnaman, who played the clean-cut Republican candidate running against Frank Underwood in House of Cards). He is a coward, liar, etc and manages to derail Leo’s career by accusing Leo’s wife, Raisa (Noomi Rapace from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) of being a spy. Stripped of his rank for refusing to denounce his (maybe) pregnant wife, Leo must start his investigation as a mere militiaman in a remote town. He is under the command of a General played by the brilliant Gary Oldman, who has portrayed everyone from Dracula to Beethoven, Sirius Black to George Smiley, Winston Churchill to Mason Verger (in Hannibal the movie).

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The General has two boys and is not pleased when another dead boy, with organs surgically removed, is found nearby. He arrests the man who found the body, not because he thinks he is the killer but because he is gay, and he assumes that a gay man must be responsible (also because homosexuality was a crime in the Soviet Union). But rounding up all the gay men in town doesn’t stop the killings. The killer is seen picking up a boy in a station, later making sweets (where would archetypal paedophiles be without bags of sweets) and still later abusing himself for being weak and prone to remorse.

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The film, as I said, is based on a book, which is based on the true story of Andrei Chikatilo, the “Rostov Ripper”, who was eventually convicted of 52 murders, although he confessed to more. Chikatilo was able to continue his killing spree from 1978 to 1995, due to a combination of general ineptitude, official denial of the concept of a Soviet serial killer, and luck (apparently his semen had a different grouping to his blood). He claimed that he had been told by his mother that his older brother had been kidnapped and cannibalised by starving neighbours when he was little. This may have been her way of trying to scare him into behaving, but he was born in Ukraine at the time of the Holodomor, when Stalin was busy starving millions of people to death as part of the process of Collectivisation, so could well have been true.  Chikatilo was a self-confessed cannibal, stating that he gained sexual satisfaction from torturing his victims, and would sometimes drink their blood and eat their nipples and tongues. The real Chikatilo was far more depraved than depicted in this movie. There is a list of his crimes at the criminal minds website.

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Andrei Chikatilo

This film has a lot going for it, particularly a first-rate cast, some good action scenes, and a lot of sets which capture the oppressive darkness of Stalinist Russia. But it has a lot of problems too. It’s over two hours and gets a bit tedious in parts, and the decision to have a bunch of English, Swedish, Lebanese, Polish and even Australian actors speak in English with heavy Russian accents to make it seem “authentic” was widely derided by critics. The Guardian critic called the film “an Iron Curtain version of ‘Allo ‘Allo”.

With a Rotten Tomato rating of only 26%, the film bombed at the box office, grossing just $13 million against its $50 million budget. It was banned in Russia, with the Minister of Culture accusing the film of making the Soviet Union look like Mordor. Outrageous of course. Stalin was far worse than Sauron.

And perhaps the worst thing? Just as the Soviets would not admit that there was a serial killer in their paradise, this film does not approach the fact that he was also a cannibal (although it refers briefly to the widespread cannibalism of the Ukrainian famine). It asks some important questions about social ethics and who is actually responsible for people like Chikatilo, the individual or the state and its terrorist organisations. But without people getting eaten, it’s just another very long murder mystery.vlcsnap-2018-11-30-18h59m44s130.jpg

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