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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016


Kristiana's familiar had a strange effect. When I started the phone call, there was a slight drinking problem, but by the end I was a roaring drunk and somehow a scientist.

The rather angry female voice at the end of the line was guarding Kristiana Vladimirovna Voznesensky, a witch of the highest order judging by the space her ad took up. This witch did not bother with turning princes into frogs or turning the cash tap on as the others in the market. She had diversified into drunks and turning frogs into princes rather than the other way around.

Her ad took up a couple of inches at the bottom of the page -- or about 100 grams of vodka in the ideal client's opinion.

One eye pointed out from a corner with a silly tattoo underneath, the kind of tattoo that you find in the morning after supping once too hard on some witch's samogon.

"Have you drunk today," snapped my little gatekeeper.

Why else would anyone ring, I thought. "Just the one or two," I said.

She wasn't a happy little familiar.

"So, you do want the witch's stop-drinking-in-one-day treatment for only 10,000 rubles?"

Beware -- the price may go up in extraordinary circumstances, they warn.

"Have a month's break from drinking," she said, "and then come back" -- which seemed to defeat the purpose of witchdom.

"Or," she added, "give me your wife's number, and I will tell her what to do."

"What should she do?"

"I won't tell you. Tell her to bring in a photo of you."

By then, I was starting to worry for my nonexistent wife, my somewhat exaggerated swelling liver and myself.

For a one-eyed witch, Kristiana was rather insecure. The ad begins with a foreign guest who is surprised at the wondrous drunk-curing witch. This is Michael Krol, a scientist. There is also Michael Crow and Dementyev, three scientists in total, all in awe of the witch. And they have hundreds of photos of light coming out of people as they are treated.

"Alcoholism can be beaten," one of the scientists is quoted as saying. "The experience of the Russian witch has convinced us of this."

We can but hope that the three are now lounging in a vytrezvitel.

"Could I speak to the specialists?" I said.

"You!" she sneered. "How could you talk to them?"

"I am a scientist," I said, completing the transformation. She didn't give me their number.