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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Voodoo for Adulterers

Forget about Dagestan and Chechnya for a moment. Forget about bomb plots and the war of the oligarchs over Boris Yeltsin's successor and even the white stocking blond snipers allegedly picking off Russian soldiers. There's a much more important war taking place in Russian homes and the front line is littered with unhappy wives betrayed by their cheating husbands.

But these lady soldiers aren't wielding sniper rifles or participating in air strikes - they're touting voodoo dolls and there are no holds barred on where the pin pricks, so to speak. In the war of love, it seems that getting your husband back calls for nothing less than black magic.

Fortunately for the grief-stricken and lonely who lost their husbands - to various voluptuous Nastyas, tall, thin Anastasias or bright and bouncy Svetas - there is an entire voodoo industry in Moscow that is ready and willing to reap the monetary benefits of returning thousands of stray husbands to their homes.

And you don't need to spend too much time and energy seeking out these black magicians. In fact, if you can wipe the lonely and angry tears from your eyes for a second and re-plaster your face with enough make-up to get to the mailbox, you'll surely find the series you need listed under "occult" in the classifieds of any junk mail newspaper.

"One hundred percent! I'll return your husband. Call 334-92-48 for a free consultation," reads the first Occult Services listing in the weekly Tsentr Plus.

But this is a rather dull ad, and the others offer more exciting and promising services. Ilya German's black magic business advertises the instantaneous return of husbands lost to mistresses with the help of voodoo and zombification. And, no worries ladies, he offers a 100 percent guarantee.

Pyotr Smelov goes several steps further, however, by offering a 500 percent guarantee. One can only assume that a betrayed wife would suddenly find herself in bed not only with her misbehaving husband but with four others as well. A great marketing ploy in itself. The most successful businesses, after all, create clients for themselves. Four more cheating husbands is four more potential pin-pricked zombies, after all.

And these services are a hot commodity. But that's not surprising. Russia is the land of infidelity - where divorce is almost a given and separation nearly 500 percent guaranteed.

It's an old Russian story. Olga and Vova meet and get married three weeks later - the same amount of time it generally takes to find the right washing machine or television set. But, they've escaped the crowded family kommunalka, which was goal No. 1. No mom, dad or babushka demanding their attention. No need to hole up in the bathroom with a good book for privacy. No more making out in the courtyard like teenagers. Freedom is a precious thing.

Sadly enough, it's a misunderstood freedom. And the grievance of the Moscow wife is that freedom for her husband means freedom to seek out other women. Babushka's little boy becomes Rico Suave, holding down several female forts at once. (In all fairness, this faithless tether ball seems to swing both ways, but the industry sees no demand for returning wives to husbands).

So, how do you get him back? Trying to keep him home by having children doesn't seem to be a tried and true method. In fact, just the opposite. Besides, this is nine months of labor and several decades of hassle for the wrong reasons. Why go through all this trouble when a local witch can stick a pin in a little made-in-Taiwan cloth doll, boil some eye of newt or zombify your husband? It's as simple as that. Or is it?

When a friend called one of the advertised numbers, however, the black magic secretaries didn't exactly give her the impression that hubby would come walking back through the door overflowing with love and having forgotten all about breakfast in bed earlier that morning with the nanny's sister.

A secretary at one number said that for 1,000 rubles ($40), her boss witch would most definitely return her husband - but refused to help her if she couldn't provide a photograph and some personal belongings of her husband's. The magic, she said, just won't work without these things. And, "if you don't have faith, it won't work. You have to believe it."

A second service was twice the price and promised to return her husband with or without photos and personal belongings. But when she asked if her husband would love her when he came back, the secretary said probably not. Apparently, that's been the biggest complaint. It seems that zombification means just that. Now that the problem of stray husbands is clearly solved, the question remains: What is better, a cheating man who occasionally honors his husbandly duties, an AWOL husband or a zombie, suffering from painful pin-prick flashbacks from his naughty days?

It's too bad, really, that love and marriage have become two entirely distinct entities and that love begot marriage and marriage begot voodoo and voodoo begot the zombie. For much less than 2,000 rubles, this journalist is willing to offer up this bit of advice: Don't bother getting married (or at least exercise a little logic). Divorce has become blase and unfashionable. It was alternative and rebellious when the first few million people took the plunge - but now it's quite boring. Voodoo will just make it ridiculous.

Jen Tracy is a freelance writer based in Moscow. She contributed this comment to The Moscow Times.