'Compassion' – Moscow, Russia - Atlas Obscura
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Moscow, Russia

'Compassion'

A monument to Malchik, a stray dog who lived in a Moscow metro station until his tragic death. 

For about three years, a black mongrel named Malchik lived in the Mendeleyevskaya Station of the Moscow Metro. After a 22-year-old woman stabbed him to death, Moscow was outraged, and later erected a monument to the poor pooch.

Malchik (“Little Boy” in Russian) was a stray who, for about three years, had made his home in the subway station. He was a friend to rail workers, commuters, and the owners of nearby flower and tobacco shops, who kept him well fed and in good shape.

But in December 2001, darkness descended upon Malchik in the form of Yuliana Romanova. The 22-year-old woman was walking through the subway with her Staffordshire terrier when she came across the stray as he slept. Romanova set her dog upon Malchik before joining the one-sided fight herself. She took a knife from her bag and stabbed Malchik six times.

The owner of a nearby stall tried to stop the attack, but it was too late. Malchik was dead by the time police and an ambulance arrived. The police did nothing, and the woman walked away from the scene.

But while no formal investigation initially took place, one investigative reporter took it upon herself to find out why Malchik was so brutally attacked. Irina Ozyornaya, of the popular newspaper Izvestiya, wrote a series of articles about the incident and managed to identify Romanova, a young fashion model, as the killer.

Ozyornaya managed to contact Romanova, who reportedly told her, “All this does not matter now. I can only say that I regret it. But in a week I am going to Spain for a job. I hope to forget all this. At least you will not bother me anymore.”

Upon further investigation, it emerged that Romanova had been diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of six, and had supposedly harmed or killed dogs that she or her family had previously owned.

As reports emerged of the brutal killing, Moscow became increasingly saddened and enraged by what had happened to poor Malchik. And after a year of campaigning, Romanova was brought to trial. She was found guilty and underwent one year of psychiatric treatment. What happened to her after that is unknown.

To honor Malchik, and to serve as a reminder of the plight of the thousands of stray dogs in Moscow, plans were made to erect a monument to the slain street dog. Donations came pouring in from Russia and beyond, including contributions from famous Russian singers and movie stars, and a group of Russian artists and sculptors began work on the monument.

The bronze sculpture, named “Compassion,” was unveiled in February 2007, on the same spot upon which Malchik died. And to this day, rail workers, commuters and dog-loving pilgrims pat Malchik lovingly on the head, and lay flowers on his pedestal, as they pay their respects to him and other strays who spend their lives on the streets – and subways – of Moscow.

Know Before You Go

The Malchik Monument, officially named “Compassion,” is located inside the Mendeleyevskaya Station of the Moscow Metro. You’ll find the station on the Serpukhovsko-Timiryazevskaya Line, in the Tverskoy District of central Moscow.

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