A theologian in Russia’s Muslim-majority region of Chechnya has reprimanded three women after local law enforcement detained them for occultism, a charge which has become more common in the area in recent years.
According to the state-owned television channel ‘Grozny’, four people from the town of Kurchaloy were arrested on February 23 on suspicion of practicing sorcery. A video posted on the channel’s Instagram page depicts three women and one man being spoken to by Adam Elzhurkayev, a specialist of the state-run Islamic Medical Center, alongside two men from the security services.
“The work to identify sorcerers, healers, and other charlatans continues to bear fruit,” the report said. “More fraudsters have been identified thanks to the work of Khusain Mezhidov, commander of the South Battalion, employees of the Kurchaloevsky District Police Department, and the clergy.”
According to the report, the four arrested locals claimed that they could perform magic to improve their client’s luck in personal relationships.
“The conversation with the theologian and the law-enforcement officers helped the women to see for themselves that they had committed a grave sin,” the news report continues. “Despite all the educational activities, there are still those who believe in the power of witches.”
On the Instagram post itself, the channel explained that witches are not real, and that those who seek their help are victims of “swindlers” and “charlatans” who should instead seek help from Allah and Islamic scholars.
According to local news site Kavkazsky Uzel, prosecutions for occultism have been on the rise since July 2019. A search of its website reveals at least seven incidents in February alone, mainly involving elderly women. In November 2019, a report on North Caucasus news site Obzor reported that one detained “healer” even had local officials as part of her clientele.
At the time, TV channel ‘Grozny’ ran a story with the sarcastic headline: “Clairvoyant Malika Datsaeva could not even foresee her own future.”
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