Андрей Михайлович Батуев was quite a character.
Leningrader in the most severe days of the war bred exotic insects at home
' .. Outside the window was a fierce frost, the Germans mercilessly bombed the city [during the Siege of Leningrad 1941-44], and in one of the rooms of the house in Saperny Lane giant heat-loving butterflies fluttered.
As soon as the shelling of Leningrad began Andrey Batuev was sent to defensive work - digging trenches and extinguishing fires on the roofs.
From an early age he was interested in animals. At home he kept [three] monkeys. He also experimented with how many years wild birds [magpies, crows, starlings, five parrots, one falcon, one pinguin, plus several poisonous snakes] could live in captivity. And those birds, which are usually allowed to live for 3-4 years, with him died only after 10-15 years while their feathers already turned gray.
But zoology and entomology were not his main profession. Batuev did not graduate from any specialized universities. He was a singer by training. He worked in the Leningrad chapel, sang in the choir [famous Dmitrievsky ensemble].
But he became even more famous as a chess player. Batuev played brilliantly at amateur level [whenever possible he played in tournaments. It is said he never studied openings and was a gentleman over the board]. He became a Master of Sport in 1945. But he didn't go any further - he became a referee and a coach, brought up many champions, for example, he was the first teacher of the future grandmaster Viktor Korchnoi.
There's a legend about him - Batuev allegedly played a game against a ghost. It happened in Lvov in 1956. Batuev arrived for the next tournament, was walking along the city with friends and saw a poster calling for séances with fortune-teller and clairvoyant Mercedes Rojano. The chess players decided to expose her. They went to the sorceress's office and asked her to summon the spirit of Cuban world chess champion Jose Raul Capablanca. For 200 rubles the clairvoyant agreed. The spirit appeared. And even played a game of chess with Batuev. The Leningrad resident lost that time and later confessed that it was one of the most difficult games of his life. ..'
from Online edition "MK in St. Petersburg", by Elena Mikhina, 2014 (in Russian)
Wonderful world by Andrey Batuev (in Russian)
Leningrad: The city that refused to starve in WWII
from Deutsche Welle, by Volker Wagener, 2016
Mergable with A Batuyev
OG Tomlinsky's posting (not yet in the DB) being discussed here