Russian boy dies in shaman ceremony

Wed Jul 14, 2010 10:42am EDT
 
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VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (Reuters Life!) - A four year-old boy with pneumonia suddenly died after his parents took him to a spiritual healer in an attempt to cure him, investigators in Russia's Far East said on Wednesday.

Traditional shaman healers, who have practiced in some areas of Siberia and the far east for thousands of years, have experienced a revival since the 1991 break-up of the Soviet Union ended repression by the Communist authorities.

Identified by Russian media as Dmitry Kazachuk, the boy's family brought him to a female shaman in his village in the Pacific Ocean region of Primorsky Krai on Sunday, where the ancient shamanic practice of mediating between the human and spiritual worlds is common.

"The investigation has established that the child died during non-traditional medical treatment," said Avrora Rimskaya from the Prosecutor General's investigative committee, adding that the exact cause of death remains unknown.

State television Rossiya 24 showed a picture of the smiling, black-haired boy, who was from the village of Sergeyevka, 135 km (84 miles) north of the regional capital Vladivostok.

Pavel Astakhov, who oversees children's rights in Russia, blamed Kazachuk's parents for his death, who acted out of "arrogance and irresponsibility," he said in a statement on Wednesday.

Popular Russian tabloid Tvoi Den said the boy was left alone with the shaman after the family were hypnotized. When the parents returned to the room the boy was dead, the report said. (Writing by Amie Ferris-Rotman, editing by Paul Casciato)