Last week’s clash between South and North Korea was the start of World War Three, which will last until 2014 and involve the use of both nuclear and chemical weapons.
At least that’s what many in the Russian Internet community have been saying, their gloomy analysis of events on the Korean Peninsula inspired by the predictions of a blind Bulgarian psychic by the name of Vanga, who died in 1996 at the age of 85.
The clairvoyant is extremely popular in Russia and her prophecies are often picked up by tabloids after major disasters. One of her most famous predictions was made in 1980, when she said: “At the turn of the century, in August of 1999 or 2000, Kursk will be covered with water, and the whole world will weep over it.”
Two decades later, in August 2000, the Russian nuclear submarine, the Kursk, sank to the bottom of the Barents Sea with the loss of all 118 hands on board.
Vanga is thought to have lost her sight at the age of 12 in mysterious circumstances – some reports say she was picked up and dashed to the earth Wizard-of-Oz style by a tornado. In 1941, after falling into a long trance, she began to speak of things that had not yet come to pass. She also began telling people where their relatives were, and if they were still alive.
Her fame quickly grew, and legend has it that when Hitler paid her a visit after the occupation of Bulgaria by Nazi forces she told him: “Leave Russia in peace! You will lose this war!”
She also seems to have forecast the 9/11 attacks, saying in 1989: “Horror, horror! The American brethren will fall after being attacked by the steel birds. The wolves will be howling in a bush, and innocent blood will gush.”
Not quite as clear cut as her other forecasts that one. The “horror, horror” bit is a nice touch though.
Vanga said that she received her information from a “non-human” voice. She also claimed that the lives of everyone she met were set out in front of her, from start to finish “like a film.” As well as this, she declared that she had been visited by extra-terrestrials from the planet Vamfim, describing them as “beautiful and slim.”
But just as you begin to write her off as a lunatic, consider this, from the 1950s. Was she simply lucky with her forecasts?
“Cold regions will become warm…and volcanoes will awaken. A huge wave will cover a big coast covered with people and towns, and everything will disappear beneath the water.”
Despite her direct hits (researchers from the University of Sofia estimate she was accurate with 85% of her predictions), her popularity in Russia is undoubtedly partly down to her prophecy that the country will again become a great global power. Perhaps, even, the only power.
“Everything will melt, just like ice. Only one thing will remain untouched – the glory of Vladimir, the glory of Russia…No one can stop Russia,” she told a Soviet writer in the late 1970s. She didn’t specify which Vladimir - Lenin or the former KGB agent who would succeed Yeltsin - she was referring to.
But back to World War Three.
According to Vanga, the conflict will start in November 2010 and will initially see war waged with conventional weapons, before nuclear and chemical options are brought into play. Things pretty much go downhill from there as far as humanity is concerned, with radiation fallout wiping out all animal and plant life in the northern hemisphere. As if that wasn’t grim enough, Muslims armed with even more chemical weapons then begin to hunt down the surviving Europeans.
By 2016, she predicted, Europe will be a wasteland, almost entirely devoid of any form of life.
Reading her predictions, it’s hard not to feel both simultaneously spooked (I’m writing this just after the U.S. has announced plans to send the world’s largest aircraft carrier to the Korean coast, a move China has criticized) and inspired to write science-fiction for a living.
For 2088, with the world back on its feet and Muslims ruling Europe, Vanga spoke of the start of a new illness; one that causes people to age decades in just seconds. This disease is eventually conquered in 2097.
Terminator becomes a reality in 2111, when people become cyborgs, but this is nothing compared to the events of 2183, when a colony on Mars gains nukes and starts demanding independence from Earth.
Her list of predictions continues until 5079, when the world ends. She doesn’t say how, but it looks as if it may have had something to do with the discovery of the boundaries of the universe three years earlier and the subsequent controversial decision (40% will be against it) to venture beyond, into the great unknown.
Oh…I almost forgot. For 2008, Vanga predicted the “assassination of four heads of state and conflict in south Asia, which will be one of the causes of World War Three.”
As far as the second part goes, the Mumbai attacks led to some saber-rattling between nuclear-armed Pakistan and India. As for the first prediction, there were four unsuccessful attempts on the lives of world leaders in 2008. Namely, the heads of East Timor, Afghanistan and the Maldives. And a “white supremacist plot” to rub out Obama.
Does that count? Or was Vanga wrong, and we can all rest easy and get on with making plans for the New Year?
From lurid tales of oligarch excess to scare stories about Moscow’s stranglehold on Europe’s energy supplies, the land that gave us Roman Abramovich and Vladimir Putin is very rarely out of the news. But there is much more to modern Russia than billionaire tycoons and political conspiracy. Marc Bennetts’ weekly column, Deeper Than Oil, goes beyond the headlines to explore the hidden sides of the world’s largest, and often strangest, country.
Marc Bennetts is a journalist (The Guardian, The Observer, BBC Russia, New Statesman and more) and the author of Football Dynamo: Modern Russia and the People’s Game (Virgin Books). He is currently working on a book about Russia’s fascination with the occult.