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The Prophetess Vanga

We’ve all heard the stories about Igor Panarin, the “academic” who has become extremely popular in the Russian state media for his prediction that the United States will dissolve into five separate countries within a year, but this one about a prophetess is really stretching one’s suspension of disbelief. Desperate times call for desperate illusions… From James Marson on the Guardian:

Another story of a similar ilk has sat at the top of the state-backed Moscow News’s prophetess012009.jpgmost-read list for the past few months: a “prophetess” called Vanga has predicted that Russia will dominate the world. Economists’ assessments of Russia, a country that currently accounts for about 3% of global GDP (comparable with the UK) and with per capita GDP at a quarter of the US level, are somewhat more sobering. Its economy is in serious trouble after years of neglected reforms, over-reliance on commodities and a failure to tackle rampant corruption. (…)

As the crisis increasingly reveals the gulf between Russia’s self-image and its real possibilities, the time of Panarin and Vanga could be coming to an end. Talk will surely move from fantasies about Russia challenging the US to the country’s very real internal problems and how to solve them. Previously deaf ears will begin to listen as the failures of the current leadership become clear in everyday life. The question that will then be raised is one that has been asked of Russian leaders for centuries: liberalisation, or crack down?