Vedomosti’s recent editorial analyzes the preferences of Russian inhabitants when it comes to taking care of their health, quoting, among others, Moscow’s chief cardiologist Yuriy Buziashvili, who complains that medical professionals in Russia compete not only with their foreign colleagues, but with the local soothsayers and psychics as well. According to Buziashvili, Russians spend approximately USD 17 billion on medical treatments abroad and as much as USD 30 billion for services from the realm of „paranormal“.
The authors draw certain disturbing conclusions from the data indicating that two thirds of Russians (according to a poll performed by a research agency Levada Center) have no confidence in the quality of the local healthcare. Citizens have gotten used to paying for healthcare that used to be completely free – in 2009, private expenditures for healthcare reached 3 percent of the GDP, while the Government healthcare expenditures were at 4.7 percent of the GDP. Related to that is the popularity enjoyed by healers, soothsayers and psychics, who end up serving the people distrusting traditional medicine. According to Levada Center, 52 percent of Russians believe in omens, 43 percent believe in prophetic dreams, and 38 percent rely on astrology. However, only 26 percent believe in the existence of aliens. Such tendencies are supported – even fueled – by the mass media, which expanded the production of content involving paranormal phenomena after the financial crisis in 2008. Such channels enjoy solid ratings and are not likely to give them up, thriving on their audience’s credulity.