Russian boy dies during exorcism ritual

The Sydney Morning Herald/July 13, 2010

A four-year-old boy has died during an exorcism ritual carried out by a traditional healer in the Far East of Russia, investigators say.

The boy's mother went to police on Saturday after the boy died while visiting a "healer" in a village, investigators said in a statement on Tuesday.

"According to the boy's relatives, his death was caused by alternative medicine methods used on him," it said.

The boy along with family members visited an ethnic Korean healer in the village of Sergeyevka in the Far Eastern Primorye region, Komsomolskaya Pravda reported, citing relatives.

The healer said that the family had a curse on it because the boy was a "demon" and told them to leave while she carried out an exorcism, Komsomolskaya Pravda reported. When they returned, they found the boy had died.

The boy apparently suffocated during the ritual, after healers held him face-down to the ground, Life News web site reported, naming the boy as Dima Kazachuk.

The healer had earlier treated the boy's grandmother for diabetes, Life News reported.

Investigators said they were checking the incident while pathologists are determining the cause of the boy's death.

Russian authorities are attempting to crack down on the thousands of healers, wizards and witches who advertise in local and national media, offering to cure drug addicts and alcoholics and to return straying husbands.

A bill currently being examined by MPs would only allow those who had officially recognised qualifications to advertise.

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