History, traditions

Russian superstition in the eyes of foreigners

Superstition among countries of the former Soviet Union bewilders foreigners and guarantees nothing but trouble.

It is past midnight…a dark and lonely street…elderly woman cab driver slams the breaks of her old and rusty “Volga.” “I hope you don’t mind if we wait here awhile,” utters she with a lisp. “Suddenly, I became very fearful. What if her accomplices will sneak out from the dark corners of the lonely building here on the lonely outskirts of Kiev?” writes a Focus correspondent.

“What are waiting for,” I asked quietly. She looked at me as though I was a mad man. “Didn’t you see a cat?” she said. “It was a black cat…it crossed the street right before our car! Now we must wait for another car to drive by us, otherwise we’ll be in trouble.”

Whether in Russia, Ukraine or Georgia (Caucasus), as paradoxically as it may seem, belief in supernatural occurrences is extremely popular, notes the journalist. Even among scientists it is considered bad manners to greet each other right at the door; since it prophesizes quarrel. Despite their modern views, Russians prefer to invite magicians to conduct some ceremony in order to protect their expensive cars from potential thieves.

Poverty-the main reason behind magic and superstition

Back in the old days, people used to abandon villages and come to big cities in search of better lives. Belief in the supernatural, superstition came along with those poor villagers. Revolution of 1917 promoted further “degradation of a civilized society”: many educated people immigrated abroad, some died in the Civil war or the Stalin’s concentration camps. Back then, just as it is today, the reason for superstition and magic was poverty.

Rasputin and Georgian magician

Belief in the supernatural was also characteristic of those at power. Even the Czar’s family in the beginning of XX century was seeking help from Rasputin, the miracle healer, to cure their young tsarevich Alexei.

Leonid Brezhnev used to listen very carefully to the forecasts of one Georgian magician. One of the directors of Yeltsin's security had a predisposition to everything transcendental. Then, astrology and sorcery often substituted political analysis.

According to reliable sources, Russian army has staff astrologers. Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations has a special lab that deals primarily with various supernatural occurrences, writes the journalist of Focus.