Some Russian voters put faith in superstar healer
NEW YORK--Like the legendary Siberian mystic Grigory
Rasputin, faith-healing superstar Anatoly Kashpirovsky is
getting close to Russia's reins of power--dangerously close,
Kashpirovsky won a seat in the new Russian parliament
in the bloc of ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky's
Liberal Democratic Party, the biggest vote-getter in the
Dec. 12 elections.
Where Rasputin left off in using mystical powers to
influence the last Russian czar, Kashpirovsky can pick up in
the ever bizarre world of Russian politics.
He claims he can cause scars to disappear, cure
hernias, asthma and AIDS by remote control, and change hair
color and eliminate wrinkles via video hookup.
His American publicist, Dr. Michael Zimmerman, bills
the Ukranian native as "the greatest discovery of the 20th
By some accounts, especially his own, Kashpirovsky is
among the most popular people in Russia thanks to his
televised "hypnotherapy" healing sessions.
He became a household name in the late 1980s as
disillusioned Soviet citizens searched for something else to
Kashpirovsky, 54, was elected while in the United States,
where he has been trying to win converts since Oct. 3. He
did not campaign for office.
In a recent interview in New York, he seemed to be a
reluctant politician, becoming tense and defensive when
asked about his political views. He was not planning to go
to Tuesday's opening session of the new parliament.
Millionaire businessman Konstantin Borovoi last month
issued a warning about Kashpirovsky: "I am deeply concerned
by the use of medical techniques in politics...," he said.
"It is dangerous."
Kashpirovsky portrayed himself as a champion of human
rights, defined in a way akin to the Soviet definition: the
right to be free of crime and to have housing.
He also disassociated himself from Zhirinovsky.
He has he was approached by Zhirinovsky's party and
agreed to run because "I know what the people want." But he
said he has never met Zhirinovsky and is not a member of the