Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Conspiracy Thinking Behind Interest of Russian Elites in the Occult, Solovey Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 9 – The lack of faith in legal institutions and procedures has combined with the belief that conspiracies behind the scenes are what matter has set the stage for many members of the Russian political and business elites to become interested in, even obsessed with the occult, witchcraft and even satanism, Valery Solovey says.

            Because such people are increasingly paranoid, the former MGIMO professor and now outspoken Russian commentator says, they are predisposed to believe that those in touch with the esoteric may very well be able to tell them not only what will happen but what is happening to them (

            In the nature of things, such people often do not flaunt their unusual interest; but they don’t hide it either, wearing expensive amulets, inviting shamans to meet with senior political figures, and travelling far and wideto try to get in touch with the other side, Versiya commentator Dmitry Zlobin says in an attempt to determine the accuracy of Solovey’s claim. 

            He produces evidence of two kinds: the actions of specific politicians and business people and the reaction of other officials to such interest, including Moscow’s hyperbolic obsession with the Sakha shaman who said he would drive Putin from office and Chechnya’s Ramzan Kadyrov’s regular attacks on witchcraft.

            According to Zlobin, there is enough evidence of the former to conclude that Solovey is on to something; and the attacks of others against such interest only underscores that he is onto something, that members of the Russian elite are displaying what he says is a symptom of serious problems with the Russian political system and Russian life today.

            When people feel uncertain and lose confidence in the functioning of normal institutions in any country, they are inclined to turn to those who claim with justification or not to be able to see the “real” forces at work behind the scenes and to be simultaneously attracted and appalled by such people.

            Russia has a long tradition of that. The most notorious period perhaps was in the leadup to the 1917 revolutions when many at the upper reaches of the regime and society turned to the occult. Rasputin was the most famous of those who offered such insights and salvation, but he was joined by hundreds if not thousands of other faith healers and other occult types.

            When a society turns in this direction, when ever fewer people believe in institutions, regular procedures and the transparency of decision making, its members are likely to seek help in this way. But such moves which have the effect the reinforcing distrust in the visible world of facts only hastens the day when that society will face collapse.

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