Russians Spent More Than $20 Billion On Fortune Tellers Last Year But Moscow Not Ready To Rein In This Business Sector – OpEd


Despite the economic squeeze between rising prices and stable or falling incomes that many Russians feel, residents of that country last year, faced with uncertainty about the future, spent 2.1 trillion rubles – or more than 20 billion US dollars – on the services of fortune tellers and others in that exotic sector.

At least some of those involved are engaged in fraud judging by the increasing number of suits the victims of such practices have brought to Russian courts, but despite that, the Duma shows little sign of being willing to rein in this sector prompting some to ask whether the deputies fear the fortune tellers (

As a result, fortune tellers and those in related professions remain almost completely unregulated, with a sense that anything goes if people are prepared to spend money on it, a pattern that court cases show is open to the abuse of often the portions of the population most at risk of being taken advantage of.

Some deputies now, as in 2013 and in 2017, have introduced draft laws that would change this; but the fate of such proposals is not encouraging; and the Versiya news portal suggests that once again, while there may be some media attention to the problem, the legislators will not take action and the problem will continue.

Tragically, there are those in the Putin regime who are delighted that people are turning to fortune tellers. After all, if Russians are doing that, they are having their propensity for passivity reinforced because the fortune tellers are suggesting that what is happening now and what will happen in the future is pre-ordained and not the result of their choices or actions.

That is exactly the message the Kremlin leader has been sending, and he may not be unhappy that the fortune tellers of his country are reinforcing his message.

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *