Interview with smiling and penitent maniac causes outrage in Russia

The Public Collegium on Press Complaints will look into the notorious interview, which journalist and socialite Ksenia Sobchak had with Viktor Mokhov, a rapist and kidnapper, known in Russia as the "Skopin maniac." The collegium will look into the question to decide whether the journalist violated professional ethics, the members of the collegium told the Vedomosti newspaper.

On March 31, Sobchak was notified of the official complaint that was filed against her interview with the criminal. According to Mikhail Fedotov, the co-chairman of the board, the journalist will have to explain the motives and circumstances that moved her to make the interview with the rapist. A linguistic examination of the interview will also be carried out.

Based on the results of the investigation, the collegium may formulate a new regulation that will be included in the standards of professional journalistic ethics. It is not a legally binding document.

In 2000, Viktor Mokhov kidnapped two young women - 14-year-old Yekaterina Martynova and 17-year-old Elena Samokhina in the town of Skopin, the Ryazan region of Russia. Mokhov kept them in a bunker for almost four years and raped them almost every day. In the spring of 2004, the girls managed to pass a written note outside, and on May 4, 2004, they were released. 

Elena Samokhina gave birth to three children during her captivity. Mokhov abandoned two of them at doorsteps of apartment buildings; the children ended up in orphanages. Her third child from the rapist was born dead after the girls were released.

The Skopin District Court sentenced Mokhov to 17 years in a strict regime colony and subsequently cut the term to 16 years and 10 months. That was the maximum sentence that Mokhov could get on his criminal charges back then. 

On March 3, 2021, Mokhov was released. He is now 70 years old. During the interview with Sobchak, he apologised for what he did to the kidnapped girls, and expressed a desire to meet with the two girls to ask for forgiveness. He also said that he would like to find his children. 

Ksenia Sobchak released her interview with the maniac on her YouTube channel on March 22. Her documentary was titled "Skopin Maniac: A conversation at large." In the film, Mokhov said with a smile on his face that he was ready to "deal again" with Samokhina, because she did not give birth to any other children after her release. 

He also said that he served his sentence and paid a price for what he did to the girls. He also said that he was happy to know that the girls were alright. 

When trying to explain his crime, Mokhov said that he "stumbled a little, it may happen to anyone." The rapist also said that he "turned out to be a hostage" to his own crime and "suffered" just like his prisoners, because he could not kill them and was afraid to release them too. 

After the interview, the Russian Parliament, the State Duma, initiated a discussion to introduce a legislative ban on interviews with criminals who committed especially grave crimes. MP Oksana Pushkina asked the Office of the Prosecutor General and the Federal Penitentiary Service to look into Mokhov's words about his desire to "deal with" Samokhina. The head of the Investigative Committee, Alexander Bastrykin, instructed to conduct a relevant investigation into the complaint.  

One of Mokhov's victims, Ekaterina Martynova (she wrote a book about four years of her life that she spent as Mokhov's captive and sex slave), said that Mokhov tried to add her as a friend on VKontakte social network. She turned to the Investigative Committee with a requirement to file a new criminal case against Mokhov.