The Russian feudal aristocracy had absolute power over the servants who lived on their lands. During the long and cruel winters the nobility became very bored by being isolated in remote and depopulated lands.
In addition to isolation, peasant families faced famine, cold and scarcity during the long winters. They had no guarantee of food or fuelwood to warm and keep families for months under heavy snow and frozen land.
For all this, they gladly accepted that their handsome young boys and girls spent this period in the Feudal Lords`s palaces. They knew they could be used sexually, abused and tortured, but they could not refuse to surrender the unfortunate chosen ones. Often these young people were exchanged for vodka and meat. There are reports of parents and grandparents, alcoholics or ravenous, taking their children and grandchildren to the doors of noble palaces offering them in exchange for food, drink or firewood.
Many of these young people did not return to their families in the spring.
Darya Nikolayevna Saltykova became famous as the cruelest of all Russian nobles, she was compared to Hungarian Elizabeth Barthory, known for torturing and killing her servants. Apparently they took special pleasure in attending long and brutal torture sessions. In a country that had no law to condemn the nobles, or protect the peasants, Satykova was arrested and convicted in 1786 for dozens of murders and hundreds of cruel crimes.
Here, I picture her having fun with young peasants.