Referred to as a colony, it was established in 1961 as a camp for prisoners engaged in the construction of a railway. Later, the camp was transformed into a strict-regime colony for especially dangerous recidivists and these days it is a place for life-term convicts...serial killers, state criminals, dangerous recidivists and such like serve their term here.
Prisoners are sent there from Moscow either by train or plane. The train trip takes two days, but it's only three hours by plane. Upon arrival prisoners are taken by motor transport and cross the Ob River by ferry and then are driven on to the Polar Owl.
The Polar Owl colony functions autonomously and includes a boiler house, bakery, diesel power station, canteen and production departments for the making of cinder blocks and crushed stone. It also has marble, sewing, tailor, machine and carpentry shops. Prisoners provide themselves and the nearby towns with the necessary items. They also breed birds and pigs.
Life there is not pleasant. Convicts are allowed to receive one parcel a year and they can go for a walk in a small cage once a day for 90 minutes. Once a week they get 10 minutes in the shower.
Their cells have a bed, table, bedside table, closed shelf where they can store food, a shelf for toiletries, water tank, clothes hanger and a toilet. Prisoners are not allowed to lie down on the bed during the day and they can only talk to cellmates in a whisper.
When they leave the cell they are searched and must answer their guards with, "Yes, citizen chief." All movements are carried out in handcuffs and in a bent over at the waist position. Convicts are not allowed to communicate during walks or when visiting the bath. Visits with relatives are allowed for no longer than two hours. Sporting events, watching movies and the opportunity to improve their education are all prohibited.
The only prisoners are those who committed particularly serious crimes like serial killers, terrorist and, also, the former leader of a neo-Nazi terrorist organization. The climate is not nice either. Full summer lasts only a month.
One of the most infamous prisoners is serial killer Alexander Yuryevich Pichushkin (born April 9, 1974), also known as The Chessboard Killer. He was a man far more evil than Claude F. Bolldgood III who only smashed one person's head in with a hammer...his mother. Pichushkin smashed in dozens.
Nobody knows for certain how many victims he had, but he is believed to have killed at least 48 people, and possibly as many as 60, between 1992 and 2006 in Southwest Moscow's Bitsa Park where most of the victims' bodies were found.
In his early years Pichushkin was a sociable child, but this changed after he fell backwards off a swing which then struck him in the forehead as it swung back. It's been speculated that this damaged his frontal cortex. This sort of damage is known to produce poor impulse regulation and a tendency towards aggression. Since Pichushkin was still a child, the damage would have been more severe, as a child's forehead provides only a fraction of the protection for the brain compared to an adult's.
Following this accident, he frequently became hostile and impulsive and his mother soon transferred him to a school for children with learning disabilities. Prior to his transfer, children physically and verbally bullied him referring to him as "that retard." This abuse only intensified his rage and hostility.
By the time he reached early adolescence his grandfather recognized that Pichushkin was highly intelligent and felt his talents were being wasted because he wasn't involved in any activities at home and at school they were focused only on overcoming his disabilities. For that reason his grandfather took Pichushkin into his home and encouraged him to pursue intellectual pursuits outside of school. His was especially interested in chess and eventually began playing games against men at the public park. It turned out that Pichushkin was pretty good and chess was a channel for his aggression.
In the public school the bullying continued throughout his adolescence and he suffered an emotional blow when his grandfather died and he had to return to his mother's home. At that time he began consuming large quantities of vodka. He continued to play chess and joined the older men in drinking vodka.
It was at this time that whenever Pichushkin knew he was going to come into contact with children, he would take a video camera along and then threaten the children. In one case he held a young child upside down by one leg and informed the child he was was in Pichushkin's power and he was going to drop him to death out of the window.
By 1992, this practice had become insufficient to satisfy his urges. Russian media speculated that Pichushkin was motivated, in part, by a macabre competition with another notorious Russian serial killer, Andrei Chikatilo, the Rostov Ripper.
Pichushkin told authorities his aim was to kill 64 people, the number of squares on a chessboard, but he later admitted that he would have continued killing indefinitely had he not been caught.
Pichushkin committed his first murder on July 27, 1992 when he was 18 years old. The victim had been classmate and Pichushkin had invited him on a killing expedition. Pichuskin had told his former classmate that he wanted to kill someone and suggested they team up. When Pichushkin realized that his partner was not serious, he killed him instead.
Pichushkin stepped up his crimes in 2001, targeting primarily elderly homeless men by luring them with the offer of vodka. After drinking with them, he would kill them with blows to the head with a hammer then throw them down sewers in a park. His trademark was a vodka bottle shoved into the wound in their skulls.
Eventually this ceased to satisfy him; "I needed more emotions." He also targeted younger men, children and women. He would always attack from behind in order to take the victim by surprise and to avoid getting his clothes bloody.
The murder of a 36-year old woman in June 2006, was his last. When her body was found there was a metro ticket in her possession which led authorities to review surveillance tape footage from the Moscow metro system. She was filmed just hours before her death walking on the platform accompanied by Pichushkin.
After Pichushkin was arrested he led police to the scenes of many of his crimes and remembered in detail how he committed each one. He claimed that while killing people he felt like God. "In all cases I killed for only one reason. I killed in order to live, because when you kill, you want to live." And, "For me, life without murder is like life without food for you. I felt like the father of all these people, since it was me who opened the door for them to another world."
Pichushkin was found sane, but suffering from antisocial personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder. During his trial Pichushkin was housed in a glass cage for his own protection. In October 2007, he was convicted of 49 murders and 3 attempted murders. He asked the court to add an additional 11 victims to his body count, bringing his claimed death toll to 60, and 3 surviving victims. He was sentenced to life in prison with the first 15 years to be spent in solitary confinement.
In March of 2008, Pichushkin gave the Russian tabloid Tvoi Den an exclusive interview and some of what he said seems incoherent. He admitted that he liked toying with the police and risky murders made him feel powerful. In fact. during the trial he bragged about how he carried out of all the murders.
He usually befriended his victims (he knew 20 of them from playing chess with them in the park) who varied in age and sex, by offering them to have a drink of vodka to mourn his dead dog, which he said he’d buried in a secluded area of the local park.
He never raped his victims, but after he'd bash their head in with a hammer he stuck empty vodka bottles and twigs into the holes because he liked the sound of a skull splitting. A few were strangled or killed with a homemade pipe pistol. To get rid of the corpses, he’d dump the bodies into the sewer, sometimes while they were still alive. Many of the victims were never found.
In prison he liked the hot water, but complained that the time in the shower was too short. As for human life, he claimed it's cheaper than a sausage and he would cut his lawyer open like a fish. He also added, "I would have killed him like an insect, and I would receive much pleasure from the process. I would cut him up and make belts out of his flesh."
Commenting on religion and politics, Pichushkin stated he would not read the Bible, never prayed to God and never would. Those who sacrificed themselves to the State Russian government were weak. He added that he never missed a chance to vote.
Pichushkin said he had nightmares about a dog that lived with him. He sometimes lured his victims by asking them to go mourn at dog's grave in the park and have a couple of shots of vodka before killing them. It claimed it was his fault the dog died because he treated it badly.
He stated that he received more pleasure from killing people whom he knew personally. He had no regret over the murders. He knew he was caught when authorities started questioning him about 12 victims then added that they were surprised to find he actually killed 60.
He told the interviewer that he never watched sports and that he would like to live in Mexico because it's warm there and there are forests. After the reporter told Puchushkin that Mexico doesn’t have forests, he replied, "Do you want to tell me there are no jungles? Like Freddy Krueger said, Elm Street exists in every city."
None of his chess games exist.