A State Duma MP from the Fair Russia party wants to fight fraudsters calling themselves spiritual healers and fortune tellers by banning the promotion of such services on TV and the internet.
Mikhail Serdyuk does not question the existence of extrasensory abilities in other people. However, he told Izvestia daily that he had received many complaints from citizens who had become victims of fraudsters.
“Mostly people present themselves as psychics without possessing any supernatural abilities and offer their help. This is a real swindle,” he stated.
The proposed bill aims to “protect the information space from any sort of occultism that negatively affects the physical and mental health of the nation,” with the ultimate objective of “making magic, witchcraft, esotericism and all common wonderworks less popular in the mass media and the information space,” Serdyuk noted.
The MP wants to change the federal laws on mass media, on information and on education. The suggested amendments completely ban any advertising of magic services, or even any reports about such services on television and radio. The mentioning of magicians, astrologers, fortune tellers and the like is allowed only on dedicated TV and radio programs that should run only between 11pm and 4am, and have the permanent notice ‘for entertainment purposes’ on the screen.
In addition, the bill bans paid editorial advertising of occult services and attempts to hide the real nature of such businesses by using various folk names or calling them experts or consultants.
As far as the internet is concerned, the new bill strictly forbids the online posting of any information concerning the occult businesses and their work if such work affects the human health, spiritual life or property.
Serdyuk’s legislative initiative is not the first of its kind. In November last year another Fair Russia MP, Ilya Ponomaryov, presented a set of amendments to the law on healthcare that introduced licenses for healers and wizards, and also the control of qualified doctors over their work.
In press comments about the initiative, Ponomaryov noted that Russian legislators had already tried to limit such businesses in 2010, but the draft could not pass the lower house due to the efforts of the powerful pro-occult lobby.
The politicians’ activity can be explained by the popularity of such services and by the growing number and scale of swindles involving claims of extraordinary powers.
For example, last November Moscow police claimed that they had uncovered a group of “fake psychics” who managed to extort 200 million rubles (over $6 million) from their victims by simply making phone calls and promising remote healing and the solving of other problems. The investigation of this case continues.