Tapping Into the Supernatural to Crack Crimes 01 November 2008, The Moscow Times Written by Natalya Krainova http

://www.themoscowtimes.com/article/1010/42/372107.htm The company's owner had locked her staff's salaries in the safe and gone home. T he next morning, a secretary opened the office to discover that it had been rans acked, the safe opened and the money missing. Suspicion fell on an elderly employee, but he denied wrongdoing. The owner decid ed to consult a psychic. Under hypnosis, the elderly employee admitted that he w as the thief. His confession was recorded and used by police as evidence. The incident, as told by Moscow psychic and hypnotist Darya Mironova, is not uni que. Law enforcement officials are actively working with paranormal experts to s olve crimes, a little-discussed practice that goes back decades. Law enforcement agencies, perhaps understandably, are reluctant to talk about th e use of paranormal experts. But in a rare revelation, Investigative Committee c hief Alexander Bastrykin said earlier this year that investigators had used hypn otists in several recent cases, including the bombing of a Moscow-St. Petersburg train. In fact, law enforcement agencies are so keen to find people with paranormal pow ers that they have employed Mikhail Vinogradov, a prominent forensic psychiatris t, to watch "Bitva Ekstrasensov," or "Psychics Competition," on TNT television f or possible recruits, Vinogradov said. "If I personally like someone, I direct them... to the special services," Vinogr adov said. "If a person works out, they get him involved." He said he has recommended less than 10 contestants, and he refused to elaborate on which agencies he was assisting, citing the sensitivity of the issue. "There are about 20 really powerful psychics in Russia, and they all wear epaule ttes," Vinogradov said, referring to their membership in law enforcement agencie s. Vinogradov said the KGB first engaged him 40 years ago, when as a medical studen t he worked out a method to predict how people would act in emergencies based on their appearances. To test his skills, the KGB asked Vinogradov to detect spies at diplomatic recep tions in embassies a few times, and his guesses proved accurate, Vinogradov said . Mironova said she has assisted the police for a decade and helped them draw up a psychological portrait of the so-called Bittsevsky Maniac when his name was not yet known. Serial killer Alexander Pichushkin, dubbed the Bittsevsky Maniac bec ause he killed most of his victims in Moscow's Bittsevsky Park, was sentenced la st year to life in prison for 48 murders. The Federal Security Service and the Foreign Intelligence Service asked that que stions for this article be submitted in writing. Questions sent in July had not been answered by Friday.

The Investigative Committee rejected a written inquiry, saying it did not want t o "hamper investigations." Bastrykin, the Investigative Committee chief, said in March that hypnotists had helped investigate the August 2007 bombing of the Nevsky Express train, which in jured 60 people. "Witnesses under hypnosis remembered the numbers on the license plate of the car used by the criminals," Bastrykin said, RIA-Novosti reported. Bastrykin also said hypnotists were involved in an investigation into the March killings of two Dagestani journalists, Gadzhi Abashilov and Ilyas Shurpayev. The head of the Investigative Committee's forensic department, Yury Lekanov, sai d forensic experts started involving psychics in their investigations about 20 y ears ago, Noviye Izvestia reported. The first state laboratory to study paranormal activities was created under Sovi et leader Josef Stalin, Vinogradov said. The law does not prohibit involving psychics or hypnotists in investigations, bu t questions have been raised about the credibility of evidence obtained through their counsel. "Prosecutors and courts should not consider testimony given under hypnosis as ev idence because they cannot be sure that the idea was not planted into the person 's mind," said Lev Ponomaryov, a leading human rights campaigner and former Stat e Duma deputy. Incidentally, the elderly employee hypnotized by Mironova in the safe robbery ne ver went on trial. The company owner ultimately forgave him and deducted the sto len amount from his paycheck, Mironova said. The reliability of psychics' predictions is very low, according to studies condu cted by the Emergency Situations Ministry in the 1990s, Minister Sergei Shoigu s aid in a 2005 interview with Rossiiskaya Gazeta. The ministry conducted the stud ies after being flooded with offers from psychics who claimed that they could pr edict catastrophes. Among the psychics was Grigory Grabovoi, who in July this year was sentenced to 11 years in prison on fraud charges after promising to resurrect children killed in the Beslan school attack in 2004. The ministry said Grabovoi had examined ai rplanes for hidden defects during the government studies. Western law enforcement agencies are cautious about the use of paranormal expert s. In Germany, hypnosis is only allowed when questioning witnesses, and even then r estrictions apply, said Rudolf Egg, director of the Criminological Center, a sta te-sponsored think tank in Wiesbaden. "I can indeed imagine that someone remembers more under hypnosis, but the questi on is whether this can be used later in court," he said. In Britain, ns, but all .. is given an e-mailed police do not actively seek the help of psychics during investigatio information received from a psychic who feels he is "able to assist. due consideration," Scotland Yard spokeswoman Kate Southern said in statement.

Southern said, however, that she was unaware of any investigations that progress ed significantly because of information provided by a psychic.

Southern had no information on the use of hypnotists in connection with investig ations. The Interior Ministry declined to comment for this article. A Moscow police officer said he had been consulting a psychic in missing persons investigations since 2000. The officer, who requested anonymity, saying he fear ed that his superiors would label him "helpless" if they knew, said the psychic helped him solve cases faster by pointing him in the right direction. He said the psychic typically gives him a large area to search for a missing per son and then he uses his experience as an investigator to determine which parts to comb. "Sooner or later, any case is solved, even without a medium's assistance," he sa id. "I turn to the medium to save time." Copyright: The Moscow Times

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