Court postpones until Apr 23 trial of fraud healer Grabovoi

MOSCOW, April 10 (Itar-Tass) – The Tagansky district court of Moscow on Tuesday postponed until April 23 the examination on the merits of the criminal case against pseudo healer Grigory Grabovoi that is charged with fraud. The trial postponement has been caused by an illness of one of the lawyers.

However, one of 11 victims figuring in the case – journalist Vladimir Varsovin came to the Tuesday court meeting. He told journalists that in September 2005, he began an investigation into the activities of the pseudo healer fulfilling an assignment of his editorial office. “Together with a photographic artist we composed a picture of a nonexistent person and I gave the photograph to Grabovoi saying that the person on the photo is my step-brother that has died. After receiving me Grabovoi claimed that my €˜step-brother’ was resuscitated and is in St. Petersburg,” Varsovin noted. The journalist said that he had paid 39,100 roubles for the individual consultation with the pseudo healer.

Grabovoi’s lawyer Vyacheslav Makarov told Itar-Tass earlier that the case of his defendant will be examined by a panel of three judges.

Criminal proceedings were instituted against the pseudo healer in April last year on the fact of fraudulent actions of workers of the Fund of Grigory Grabovoi. He is charged with major fraud on 11 counts.

Prosecutors re-qualified charges against Grabovoi from fraud to grand fraud.

The sect leader was charged under Article 159, Part IV of Russia’s Criminal Code in 11 money theft episodes.

Among those who complained to police about Grabovoi were residents of Beslan, where he had held his seminars and promised to revive children killed in the Beslan hostage-taking raid.

Grabovoi is accused of developing fraudulent schemes and misappropriating the money of persons who trusted him in a pyramid scheme.

He taught people for money and then offered his students to sign contracts committing them to spread his teaching to Russian provinces. The students obliged, organising seminars in their regions, which Grabovoi viewed as branches of his movement.

The interest was commercial: Grabovoi drew a revenue to the tune of 10 percent of the profit gained by regional organisations.

The seminars were mostly attended by grief-stricken persons, who found Grabovoi’s teaching the only opportunity to get answers to the questions plaguing them, including Beslan residents.

According to prosecutors, the price of tuition at seminars – that gathered up to 500 people – was 2,000 roubles per person, while individual studies cost 39,100 roubles.

Grabovoi was detained after one of the seminars at Kosmos Hotel, where attendance usually ranged between 200 and 300.

The sect leader began his activity in the mid-1990s and initially was building his image in the mass media, to become famous and promote his teaching, prosecutors said.

If found guilty, Grabovoi may face up to ten years in prison and a fine of up to one million roubles.

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Itar-Tass, Russia
Apr. 10, 2007

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This post was last updated: Wednesday, April 11, 2007 at 5:34 AM, Central European Time (CET)