Russian lawmakers go on a legislative witchhunt against witches
( dpa ) - Russia's cabinet has drafted law to protect people falling under the charms of "healers, witches, mages and extrasensory individuals," the Russian daily Gazeta reported Friday.
The legislation aims to regulate the sale of mystical and occult services by banning all but licensed healers from advertising, the paper said.
"Today our citizens, trusting the advertising promises of magicians and sorcerers, frequently become victims of banal fraud," the author of the legislation, State Duma deputy Vladimir Medinsky, was quoted as saying.
"Genuine witches and wizards will not suffer because they don't need any advertising," he added.
Russian radio shows and the pages of tabloids are filled with candlelit pictures of Miracle-Worker Grandmother Faith, Mother Marina or Supreme Elena, promising to change your luck or bring your husband back "without sin."
They now look set to be cut - along with advertisements promising cures for illnesses using miracle creams, powders and amulets.
Gazeta estimated the volume of advertisements make up about 6.3 per cent of the advertising market, worth 30-40 million dollars per year in 2007.
The paper quoted health ministry statistics that about 100,000 people are working as unregistered healers and local witch doctors in Russia.
The government and the Russian Orthodox Church have worried over the rapid growth of splinter religious groups and a boom in fascination for the supernatural since the fall of the Soviet Union.
Much attention has focused on the issue since 35 members of an extreme Orthodox Sect calling themselves the "true" church holed up in an underground cave for six months.
Two sect members reportedly died and four children were interred with the cult, causing a major scandal.
In 2005 the nation was shocked when it surfaced that the mothers of children who perished in the Beslan school bombing were paying a man who promised to resurrect them.