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Occult Enthusiast Charged in Patriarch Plot

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill participating in a liturgical service. D. Grishkin

A former Nizhny Novgorod doctor faces criminal charges for seeking co-conspirators online to help him kill Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill through a ritual using their “collective mind,” investigators said Monday.

Dmitry Shubin, a 42-year-old former pediatrician, has been charged with inciting hatred for statements he made on the Vkontakte.ru social network.

The charges were filed after a local resident reported the comments to police, and investigators turned the case over to a Nizhny Novgorod court Friday, a spokeswoman for the local branch of the Investigative Committee said Monday.

If convicted, the defendant faces a fine of up to 300,000 rubles ($9,700) or a sentence of up to two years in prison.

A local police source told The Moscow Times that Shubin was investigated in connection with a 1998 murder involving a satanist ritual.

For nearly a year, from March 2009 through this January, Shubin posted statements on his Vkontakte.ru page calling on Internet users to gather at his apartment at a set time to use the occult concept of the collective mind, known as egregore, against the patriarch.

In his pleas for support, Shubin wrote that only a large number of people can form a strong collective mind.

“I don’t consider myself guilty,” Shubin told The Moscow Times by phone on Monday. “I just wanted to express my opinion against the government’s policy on religious issues,” he said.

Shubin said he was targeting the state’s tacit support of the Russian Orthodox Church, rather than the church itself. He said he had no supporters and was acting alone.

His page on Vkontakte.ru was still accessible Monday evening, including invitations to meetings dating back to at least September.

In his profile, Shubin lists his main interests as “cabala, magic and women,” and among the pictures he posted were scans of a 1992 diploma from the Moscow School of Hypnosis and a 1993 certificate from the School of Practical Psychology.

Cabala is a school of thought emanating from mystical rabbinism.

Shubin, who lists himself as an atheist, is also a member of the group “Cabala and Magic,” which contained a survey he created asking visitors whether they considered the “topic of killing the patriarch relevant.”

About three-quarters of the more than 300 who voted said “no.”

Shubin first came to prominence in connection with a bizarre murder more than a decade ago. In 2000, a Nizhny Novgorod court sentenced Yevgeny Platov, then 17, to 10 years in prison for stabbing to death a 12-year-old member of their group as part of an occult rite.

A second suspect, 16-year-old Alexei Shevaldin, was found mentally unstable and ordered to receive psychological treatment.

At that time, investigators learned that Shubin, who was working at a city hospital, recruited the teens to join his sect though ads in a local newspaper, according to news reports from the time.

Shubin was not charged in the crime because police were unable to prove that he was involved in the killing, the reports said, but prosecutors warned him against trying to organize groups in the future. He has denied that he ordered the killing.

The Moscow Patriarchate said the case was another reminder of the danger occult groups pose to society.

“We look at their leaders with pity and pray for them,” a spokesman said Monday, asking that his name not to be mentioned because he was not aware of the Nizhny Novgorod case.

Patriarch Kirill conducted a liturgy on Monday in the Kremlin’s Uspensky Cathedral, the patriarchate said.

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