‘Putin’s Favorite Witch’ Suddenly Falls Foul of the Kremlin

Photo Illustration by Kelly Caminero / The Daily Beast / Getty
Photo Illustration by Kelly Caminero / The Daily Beast / Getty

A reality TV star and self-proclaimed witch who gained fame by supposedly using magic spells to boost Vladimir Putin’s ratings has been arrested by Russia’s security services.

Alyona Polyn, real name Yelena Sulikova, faces up to seven years behind bars on charges of extremism and offending the feelings of religious believers—a law created in 2013 as an apparent response to Pussy Riot’s famous “punk prayer” in a Moscow cathedral.

Polyn, 44, is a former star of the kooky Battle of the Psychics reality show and the leader of a group called the Empire of the Strongest Witches, which held a widely mocked 2019 “Witches’ Congress” at which a large group of black-cloaked women cast spells to funnel power and strength to the Russian president. She seems to have also been closely involved in supporting Russia’s war against Ukraine: An entire section of the group’s website features certificates and letters addressed to Polyn thanking her for providing “humanitarian support” to Russian troops. She was also praised for providing both Russian troops and their families with “psychological support.”

More than a dozen videos filmed by Russian soldiers thanking Polyn for her help also show that she personally signed several projectiles to be fired into Ukraine.

It’s not clear if her “support” to soldiers on the front lines has anything to do with the charges against her. The Federal Security Service (FSB) accuses her of circulating “extremist literature containing calls for violence against clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church.” She’s also accused of posting a video online that contained statements “humiliating” those of the Orthodox faith.

Kremlin-friendly Telegram channels reported that a raid on her home uncovered voodoo dolls, black candles, and demon figurines.

Incidentally, one of Polyn’s biggest fans was arrested in Ukraine last year for allegedly passing information about Ukrainian troops movements and critical infrastructure to the FSB, the BBC’s Russian service reported at the time.

Perhaps most bizarrely, however, the accused Russian spy—self-proclaimed “sorcerer” Vasily Romanishin—was allegedly getting help from Polyn’s Empire of the Strongest Witches.

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