view of courtyard of house on Spassky Lane, St Petersburg


St P

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Spassky, 1865

In 1865 Spassky Lane was the scene of the killing of von Zon, a lay-about playboy. The trial of his killers stirred up great public interest, since it was one of the first trials by jury in Russia (incidentally, one of the expert witnesses called at the trial was Dmitry Mendeleev, the inventor of the periodic table). After attending a dance class – the disco of those times, – von Zon succumbed to an invitation from his friend Ivanov to make the acquaintance of a certain young woman who had recently set out on the path of vice. Cunning Ivanov had a collaborator who worked as a technician in a photographic studio. The two malefactors planned to use chemicals from the studio in order to poison and rob their client. As is the practice in Russia, however, the clever plan failed to work. Recourse was had to a heavy iron. Von Zon’s body was dispatched to Moscow Freight Station. Soon afterwards, however, the ghost of von Zon began to appear to the technician at night. Unable to stand the torture, he confessed.

Realny Peterburg,
Dmitry Gubin, Lev LurIe, Igor Poroshin
Limbus Press, St Petersburg, 2000