Baba Yaga (Zvorykin)In a move I find both refreshing and troubling, the Russian Parliament is considering a law to ban advertising by that country’s occult practitioners. The (UK) Telegraph reports on the proposed legislation and the problems which led up to it (WebCite cached article):

Russian MPs have backed a bill that bans anyone who calls themselves a witch or a wizard from advertising their services in the media in an effort to combat a controversial national obsession with the occult.

According to the Orthodox Church, Russia has 800,000 practitioners of the occult, many of whom advertise in newspaper small advertisements offering cures for alcoholism and spells to lift curses and return errant husbands for a fee. One report claims almost one in five Russians have consulted occult ‘healers’ but MPs have warned they are risking their health and possibly their lives by trusting in such quackery. They say it is time the country grew up.

In a tragic incident this summer, a four-year-old boy in Russia’s Far East suffocated to death during an exorcism ritual carried out by a local healer who was convinced the boy was possessed by a demon.

This particular event was widely reported this summer, by Pravda, among other places (cached).

I’m not sure stifling advertising will really curb the “healers'” activities, though … I’m fairly certain they’ll find ways to announce themselves and make sales, in spite of it. What might be a better idea — instead — is to prosecute those who defraud or harm people, thus encouraging them not to want to bother selling their putative “services” in the first place. This should obviate the need to prevent them from advertising.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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