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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Setting Zhora Straight

KGB general-turned-presidential astrologer Georgy Rogozin does horoscopes that are regularly presented to Russia's top leaders. Rogozin is in touch with the cosmos about various budgetary and financial matters. Rogozin twirls tables and saucers right in his own office. Rogozin reads mantras. Rogozin corrects karmas. Rogozin creates a "favorable energy field" around President Boris Yeltsin. He detects tellurous radiation in some of the president's country residences. He makes sure that Yeltsin's bed is situated on a strict north-south axis. He heals with his hands. He checks decisions by the top staff commission against cabbalah tables. Any day now, General Rogozin is expected to be unmasked as the Great Grand Master of the World Masonic Lodge.

But I prefer another version: that Rogozin is Merlin, come to Russian political reality straight from King Arthur's Round Table.

In short, I would say that all this was nonsense, if not for the stories of people whom I have no reason not to believe. For instance, the story about how Rogozin tried to hypnotize longtime Yeltsin aide Ludmilla Pikhoya.

Not long ago, in the middle of a large and raucous meeting with all sorts of presidential advisors and aides, the feisty Pikhoya suddenly felt ? as the result of one strange inflection ? that one of her opponents was trying to use methods of persuasion on her that were neither traditional nor proper. Then the diminutive Ludmilla Grigorievna grabbed Rogozin around the waist, dragged him out into the corridor and screamed for all to hear: "Look here, Zhora! Don't you ever go messing around with my subconscious again!"

Moskovskie Novosti, April 23-30