File added 2002/0819
Latest update 2006/1008

Copyright 2002, 2006 by Hugo S. Cunningham


1730 -- 1801

Dar'ya Nikolaevna Saltykova (1730-1801), remembered by Russia under the disparaging nickname "Saltychikha," epitomized the savagely cruel and unreasonable employer or bigshot, especially female. She has been cited by both V. I. Lenin and A. I. Solzhenitsyn.

Widowed in 1756, she abused her newly inherited power to torture and murder at least 38 serfs (plus, most likely, an additional 26) over the next six years, generally for trivial offenses like failure to clean a floor satisfactorily. Due to aristocratic connections and/or bribery, nothing was done for six years; serfs who tried to report her were sent back for more abuse and murder.

For reasons that are unclear, a denunciation finally reached Empress Elizabeth in 1762, and a serious investigation was started. Saltychikha's surviving serfs were made safe (at last) under a trusteeship, and Saltychikha's prosecution dragged on for 6 years.

In 1768, Saltychikha was found guilty and sentenced to one hour in a pillory on Red Square (Moscow), followed by life imprisonment in a nunnery. In later years, sightseers would sometimes peer through the barred window of her cell, to be met with spitting and cursing. She died of natural causes in 1801.

Comment from the Ideology Department:

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