on Nikitski Pereulic
James L. Choron
some of the people in this particular story are, at the moment, still
in their country's service, all family names have been omitted at
Pereulic is a tiny side street that leads away from Tvrskaya about
two blocks North of the Kremlin. It is a quiet, residential street,
surprisingly isolated from the hustle and bustle of one of the city's
busiest thoroughfares, lined with beautiful old houses and apartment
buildings, most of which date to the end of the last century. At one
time, it was an "elite" section of town, whose dwellings were reserved
for high ranking Party Officials.
Today, the most prominent building on the street is the Tunisian Embassy.
Built in the late 1880's, it was once the private home of the mistress
of the (in)famous Count Orloff. Seized by the State in the wake of
the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, it then became the residence of a number
of prominent Party bosses from a multitude of Departments and Commissions.
Finally, in the 1950's, it was given over to the newly independent
Tunisia for use as an embassy.
House on Nikitski Pereulic
Photo courtesy James L. Choron
Nothing of note happened for years. The Embassy of Tunisia went about
its normal, everyday business. Personnel came and went, and a series
of Ambassadors returned to their native land with wonderful stories
of this ornate house with it's oak paneling, rich, deep carpet, gold
plated toilet fixtures, walk in closets and bath tub, and solid mahogany
Victorian Era furniture. Uncounted diplomats told of how they strolled
the lush grounds, behind the ten foot brick fence, and enjoyed the
quiet and serene evenings so peacefully, yet so close to the heart
of the city.
All of this stopped in the early spring of 1998, when, all of a sudden
the house became plagued by not one apparition, but several, and of
the most astounding and disturbing kind. It all seemed to begin when
a work crew from the City of Moscow arrived to make repairs to the
hot water line leading into the building. Now, for those of you who
do not understand, in Moscow, hot water is provided to each building
from a central plant which services an entire block. It is carried
to the buildings by insulated pipes which are laid approximately seven
feet underground in a sealed, cement lined conduit. The entire length
of these massive pipes are not routinely serviced. They are subjected
to a pressure check by forcing compressed air into them, and if a
leak, or loss of pressure shows, only then are they dug up and repaired.
Such was the case in May of 1998, when a leak was discovered in the
hot water main line leading into the Tunisian Embassy. The leak was
located within Embassy grounds, in a section of pipe that had not
been disturbed since it was laid in the summer of 1949. Since the
work crew did not know exactly where the leak was located, they began
at the compound wall, and started digging toward the building, checking
each segment of pipe as they went. The problems began almost the moment
they sunk their first spade.
night, the Ambassador's startled wife was on her way to the second
floor toilet, when running down the hall toward her, she saw a naked
young girl, screaming silently as she ran, seemingly oblivious to
her unclothed state, a look of sheer terror on her face. Needless
to say, the Ambassador's wife, a devout Moslem, was shocked, startled,
offended, and scared out of her wits as she watched the figure simply
vanish at the end of the hall, after running past her with a bone-chilling
blast of cold air.
She returned shakily to her bedroom, and the next morning, told her
husband of the startling event. The girl, it seemed, was blond, very
pretty, and about fourteen to fifteen years of age. She had long hair,
which was done in the traditional-style Russian braids, and she was
completely naked. The Ambassador took the story in with somber consideration,
and decided that his wife had simply had a nightmare.
The next night, in a completely different part of the house, the Military
Adjutant, Colonel Mohamed Fisal B-----, encountered a similar apparition
while walking down a first floor corridor, in route to his office
to do some late-night book work. This apparition was also a young
girl, probably about the same age as the other, and completely naked.
This young woman also ran screaming, quite silently, down the corridor
toward the front of the house, disappearing just as she reached the
front door. This girl was a brunette, with short, wavy hair.
There were four other occurrences over the space of the next three
nights. The Embassy cook managed to encounter two naked girls at one
time, as she made her way to the kitchen to prepare breakfast.
Moaning and crying began to be heard throughout the house at night,
along with faint but obviously pleading female voices crying for mercy
and for God to help them. Some called out for their mothers.
Needless to say, the entire Embassy was in an uproar. Local employees
refused to report in for work. Tunisian employees began to go on "extended
holidays" in the country. The Ambassador and several other senior
employees. and their wives. devout Moslems all, began to drink rather
heavily. One such occurrence could possibly be written off as too
much rich food followed by a bad dream. This was six of them within
a span of less than a week. Word was spreading, and the Embassy was
beginning to receive a certain amount of telephone calls and, even
worse, the curious were beginning to gather on the sidewalks outside
and gawk at the building.
Meanwhile, the City Water Department carried out its task. The five-man
crew showed up for work each morning at seven am.. right on schedule.
In five days of digging, they still had not uncovered the leak that
the City of Moscow was convinced existed. There was only one more
section to dig up, and that was the one leading directly into the
the morning of May 16th, 1998, the work crew removed the cement cover
of the last segment and found their leak. They also found the cause
for the apparitions in the Embassy. Laid out along either side of
the hot water pipe, and covered with a substance that medical examiners
later called a "caustic substance" were six sets of human remains.
They were, according to the medical experts, those of young girls,
approximately between the ages of twelve and eighteen. Each had been
shot through the base of the skull, and they were, judging from the
lack of artifacts found accompanying the bodies, naked at the time
of interment. No identifying articles were found. The medical examiners
estimated that the remains had been placed alongside the conduit at
the time it was laid, in the summer of 1949.
At the time the conduit was laid, the house on Nikitski Pererulic
had been the official residence of Lavrenti P. Beria, then Soviet
Minister of Internal Affairs, and Director of the NKVD (Secret Police).
No one involved was terribly surprised by the find. The remains were
removed, the leak repaired and the conduit replaced. No further reports
of sightings have been forthcoming, but, on the other hand, that is
quite understandable. The Tunisian Embassy moved into it's new home,
located on the other side of Moscow, approximately one month after
the bodies were discovered. The beautiful house on Nikitski Pereulic
is currently unoccupied.