Shopping around for protective spirits

A news headline from ten years ago, September 2011:

Chavez Turns to Shamans to Fight Cancer.

Another headline, from a February 2013 article:

Can Santeria Cure Hugo Chávez?

Hugo Chávez died on March 5, 2013 – exactly 60 years after Stalin.

Seven years and a half later, Alexei Navalny shared his view of the people who had ordered his assassination:

…[They] visit astrologists. They visit old women in Siberia, chiromancers and all the other sorts. We understand they are crazy about occultism and we see what kind of [Eastern] Orthodoxy they profess – something close to shamanism.

In his recent interview from prison – I refer to the original, Russian, unabridged text – Navalny reiterated that view:

…astrologers and shamans are officially employed by the Kremlin. Putin is fixated on occultism and wears a red thread on his wrist…

The Kremlin also seems to fear those “shamans” who seek to purge it from “evil spirits” (1, 2, 3).

In defense of Chávez, one could argue that shamanism is still part of the indigenous way of life in Venezuela. The dictator was, in a sense, going back to his roots, not merely trying out exotic treatments. All right, but Santería is still an import.

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