Will there be a nuclear war? Will Russia win the Ukraine offensive? Will my son survive?
As the Kremlin ramps up its military intervention in the pro-Western country, more and more Russians are turning to astrologers.
In St. Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city, bespectacled Elena Korolyova welcomes clients to her apartment, where two cats prowl between stacks of books.
“People want to know what will become of Russia, cut off from the rest of the world,” the 63-year-old told the AFP news agency.
Astrologers, psychics and mediums have been popular in Russia for years, and especially in turbulent years, the demand for their services increased.
As the country is rocked by a spate of unprecedented sanctions against Ukraine, more and more Russians are turning to astrology as they look to the future.
Korolyova, a grey-haired philologist by training who gained fame through word of mouth in the former imperial capital, tries to reassure her clients.
She predicts that Moscow will not only weather the economic storm, but emerge victorious.
“The global catastrophe will intensify in September, but Russia will emerge stable and prosperous,” she said.
Korolyova charges 5,000 rubles ($90) per consultation and, without wanting to divulge numbers, says requests from clients have increased since President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine on February 24.
In the first week of the conflict, searches for “astrologer” on Russia’s main search engine Yandex more than doubled, from 42,900 on February 19 to 95,000 on March 5, according to the company’s keyword statistics.
– Political Astrology –
Also in Moscow, another prominent astrologer, Konstantin Daragan, who has made a name for himself by claiming to have predicted the coronavirus pandemic, says Russia will win on the ground in Ukraine and in its clash with the West.
“Russia becomes the center of the world after the conflict,” he recently said on social media.
Originally from Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region, which the Russian army is trying to conquer, the aeronautical engineer-turned-astrologer claims to have advised ministers, bankers and even members of Ukraine’s intelligence services in the past.
After the pro-Western authorities took power in Kyiv in 2014, he went to Moscow and supported the Russian military intervention, although his hometown of Lysychansk was devastated by fighting.
Business is booming for him too.
His “School for Classical Astrology” has doubled the number of students since the beginning of the Ukraine intervention and now has around 200 in Moscow.
– War of stars –
Sociologist Alexei Levinson of the independent Levada Research Center said trying to read the stars is a way for many “confused” Russians to make sense of reality.
“In the face of a collapsed universe, some prefer to take stars as guides rather than their leaders,” he said.
“Astrology today is a kind of psychotherapy or new religion.”
Anna Markus, one of Daragan’s students in her 50s, said she searches the stars for “logic in events on Earth.”
“Russia is being singled out as the only culprit in the conflict, but it is obvious that a third country is the real culprit,” she told AFP.
She has a star map that she claims proves the guilt of the United States.
Across the border in beleaguered Ukraine, the stars predictably point the opposite.
Astrologer Vlad Ross, popular in Ukrainian media, says Putin is “severely ill” and “will not survive March 2023”.
“Saturn is the sign of Russia versus Uranus, the sign of Ukraine. Our victory is imminent,” affirmed Angela Pearl, another Ukrainian star astrologer, in a video that has been viewed more than a million times since mid-May.
Desperate Ukrainians turn to astrologers for a sign that their loved ones will survive at the front lines or whether they need to flee from advancing Russian troops.
Ukrainians want to know “if there is a nuclear war, if they should leave their country, if their loved ones are in danger,” astrologer Olena Umanets told AFP.
“Russia will explode in March 2023,” predicted the 38-year-old ex-musician, who fled to Switzerland from Ukraine.
Her $100 online consultation calmed a client, a 46-year-old TV producer from Kyiv named Kristina, who was worried about her husband, who is fighting on the front lines.
“My husband just called me. He thanks God he made it through the night,” she wrote to her astrologer in June.
“Thank you for encouraging me to pray for him. It was a relief to share this responsibility with the stars.”
#Russians #turn #astrologers #Ukraine #conflict