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    Beslan 'healer' Grabovoi sentenced to 11 years for fraud

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    MOSCOW, July 7 (RIA Novosti) - A Moscow court on Monday sentenced to 11 years in prison the self-proclaimed healer, Grigory Grabovoi, who had claimed to be able to resurrect children killed in the 2004 Beslan school siege.

    Grabovoi, 44, was found guilty of 11 counts of fraudulently obtaining money "under the guise of resurrecting the victims' dead relatives or curing them of serious illnesses." He had denied all the charges, saying he had pursued political, public, religious and scientific activities in order to "bring benefit to people."

    The court also noted that Grabovoi had exerted psychological pressure on people grieving for their dead relatives. He was also fined 1 million rubles (over $42,000).

    In 2005, Grabovoi made headlines all over the world when he promised to resurrect children killed as Russian forces stormed a school that had been seized by Chechen militants in the North Caucasus town of Beslan. A total of 331 people, including 186 children, died in what has been referred to as Russia's 9/11.

    In March 2008, the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported that Grabovoi and his "social-political organization" - Drugg - had enjoyed the protection of high-up members of the Russian government and that the approval of then-President Vladimir Putin, had been sought before his arrest in 2007.

    Grabovoi had at one point claimed to enjoy the support of the president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, saying that he had been issued a license to work in the Central Asian state. The Kazakh Embassy in Moscow denied this.

    The Mothers of Beslan organization, a number of whom supported Grabovoi, said the "healer" had been used by the Russian authorities to discredit the group as it attempted to resolve a number of issues surrounding the events leading up to the Beslan siege.

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