Here in the U.S., we're used to everything being about us. All of the TV shows and movies are set here, the rest of the world watches our political events even closer than we do sometimes, and of course, we have all the most infamous serial killers. Zodiac, John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy -- USA, USA, USA. Go ahead, name one serial killer from the last century who didn't do his murdering in the land of the free.
Here's a freebie: Anatoly Slivko. Between 1964 and 1985, the Soviet youth leader murdered seven teen and preteen boys and sexually abused dozens more after rendering them unconscious because the sight of a lifeless boy turned him on. There's just no easy way to say it, man. The dude was screwed up.
Most serial killers have no better explanation than that, but Slivko could actually point to a single incident in his youth after which he never again reacted to a dead body the normal way. (To wit, "gross.") In 1961, at the age of 22, he witnessed a horrific traffic accident when a motorcyclist plowed into a group of pedestrians, leaving a boy in his early teens who was wearing a Soviet boy scouts uniform convulsing in the street as he died, surrounded by blood, gasoline, and fire. It was the sort of thing that would leave most people unable to think sexy thoughts ever again, at least not without a lot of therapy, but Slivko found it excited him in a disturbingly non-"run for help" kind of way. He became obsessed with recreating the scene, but what was a budding serial killer to do? It's not as if pubescent boys just wander into the homes of strange men for no reason. You have to at least offer them beer.
Slivko decided to take a different tack, opening a youth club two years later, a sort of Boys and Girls Club of Russia Except Just for Boys and Nefarious as Shit. He wasted no time isolating his first victims, who were all between 11 and 17 years old and unusually small. This profile satisfied three requirements for Slivko: it made them physically similar to the dead boy Slivko had seen in the accident, easier to fight if it came to that, and more inclined to take Slivko up on his offer.
See, Slivko told the boys he was working on an experiment to lengthen the spine and needed their help to test it by hanging from a rope until they fell unconscious, but not to worry, because he would revive them afterward. As children who trusted the guy who ran the local hangout and maybe wished they were a little bit taller and/or a baller, they bought it. Once again, the short man is oppressed. Sometimes, he told them he was making a movie, which didn't sound nearly as creepy as it does in hindsight. Slivko had actually become an award-winning local filmmaker just so it wouldn't be suspicious when he asked his young friends for help with a movie. This guy planned.
He also mostly kept his word. On the day of the act, he brought in a brand new boy scout uniform that he asked the victim to wear (note to any young boys and possibly full-grown men who might be reading: If anyone who isn't your scout leader asks you to do this, run) and shined their shoes before beginning his "experiment." Once the boys were unconscious, he abused them, often filming the crime, so the whole "movie" thing wasn't a total lie. Then he revived them, and they had no idea what had transpired while they were out. In Slivko's mind, it was no harm, no foul.
One day not long into his crime spree, though -- the next year, 1964, to be exact -- his victim du jour couldn't be revived. Slivko insisted that this first death was an accident, but he didn't seem too put out about it, immediately taking advantage of the opportunity to incorporate the "blood, gasoline, and fire" elements of his fantasy. Once he got that far, he said, he couldn't stop, and while he mostly stuck with his Flatliners deal, he killed seven boys over the next two decades.
It was right around that time that he decided to get married, probably to throw suspicion off himself in at least two ways. Slivko had known he was gay since way before that fateful traffic accident, but as Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga taught us, there are no gay people in Russia.
Slivko had sex with his wife fewer than 10 times during their entire marriage, but he managed to produce two children, so how, the community reasoned, could this extremely heterosexual and upstanding member of the community have anything to do with all these boys who keep disappearing all around him?
It worked right up until it didn't. A local prosecutor started snooping around in November 1985 and found out that just about all the boys at Slivko's club had participated in these dubious "experiments." Slivko was charged with seven counts of murder, sexual abuse, and necrophilia; seemingly having accepted that the jig was up, he even led investigators to all the locations of his victims' bodies that he could remember.
On death row, he even became a kind of Hannibal Lecter, though he sucked at it. Police asked Slivko for help understanding another serial killer they were tracking, and he enthusiastically suggested that the man, like him, was unable "to engage in normal sexual arousal and satisfaction." This didn't help them at all, and Slivko was executed mere hours after the interview, presumably as scheduled and not just because he was such a shitty profiler. He later inspired not one but two characters on Criminal Minds, so at least he can rest in peace knowing he lives on in the 33rd most popular network TV show and home to this Jason Alexander look:
Top image: Tamara Gore/Unsplash, The Kremlin