Saturday, February 26, 2022

Lack of Confidence in Possibility of Justice Provoking Growing Interest in the Occult among Chechens

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Jan. 3 – Svetlana Gannushkina, a prominent Russian human rights campaigner, says that Chechens’ lack of trust that the legal system in their republic has sparked a growing interest among the population in the occult, a phenomenon that of course is hardly limited to that North Caucasus republic.

            “In troubled times,” she continues, interest in occult services increases. This is an historical fact.” Given the situation in Chechnya now, this should not surprise anyone. When people disappear and nothing happens, others will turn to fortune tellers to try to find them or at least what happened to them (

            A similar pattern can be found in other Russian regions but not to the same extent, Gannushkina says. “The demand is proportional to the hopelessness ruling in the country and in the region.” Where as in Chechnya, the authorities act without admitting what is going on, the demand is very high indeed.

            And Ruslan Kutayev, president of the Assembly of the Peoples of the Caucasus, agrees. He points out that while Islam condemns the occult, many Muslims in Chechnya and elsewhere are turning to it because they don’t trust either the government or their Muslim leaders to seek justice for them.

            “The population thinks that Islamic leaders are working for the Russian special services,” he continues. And so they don’t trust them. “The religious leaders in turn react to the population in an extremely aggressive fashion,” a reaction that compounds the problem.

            Ramzan Kadyrov launched a campaign against the occult in 2013, but that effort did not last very long. Then beginning in 2019 and even more at the end of 2021, he resumed his attack, something that is likely to drive fortune tellers and others underground but not eliminate them from the lives of Chechens under his harsh rule.

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