Friday, March 05, 2010

A Crackpot In Russia

Well, I'm sure there are more than just one crackpot in Russia. Still, Viktor Petrik is kinda special and seems to have been able to fool a lot of influential people in Russia and outside of it.

He has won some high-level support. United Russia, the ruling party, regularly gives him prominent roles in events on innovation, while officials including Boris Gryzlov, the speaker of Russia's parliament and No. 2 in the party, have publicly endorsed his products. The two men are listed as the authors of a patent granted in 2009 for a filter that Mr. Petrik says can turn radioactive waste into water that's safe to drink.

Not only that, but he's also "friendly" with a former US President:

Mr. Petrik says he has also met prominent people outside Russia and shows pictures to prove it. In December 2004, he visited former President George H.W. Bush in Texas and discussed his technology for cleaning groundwater. "When we met, Bush knew a lot about me already," he says, adding that he hopes to have another meeting with him in the next few months.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Bush said the meeting was "a very short courtesy call" and that they haven't been in touch since and have no plans for further meetings.

Does this surprise anyone?

His "resume" is also quite "stellar"!

Mr. Petrik says he learned hypnosis from his uncle. He got an undergraduate degree in psychology at Leningrad State University in 1976, according to university records.

He says he also studied physics but didn't get a degree. The university says it doesn't have detailed records of the courses he took.

He spent much of the 1980s in prison. Yevgeny Zubarev, a journalist who wrote frequently about Mr. Petrik in the 1990s, says he saw the criminal file and the central charge was smuggling antique furniture. Mr. Petrik acknowledges he was in prison but declined to comment on the charges.

I'm tempted to call him a modern-day Rasputin, but that's too easy. But again, the problem isn't with him. There will always be charlatans and con artists like this, no matter where and when. It is the people that someone are gullible enough to be fooled into buying such snake oil that are at fault. In many cases, the harm done is usually to the individuals who are silly enough to believe in such a thing. But when such jokers can influence people in power, then that's another matter and can affect the lives of many people. This then should be dealt with swiftly.



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh well...

The lives of many people have been affected already...dangerous Petrik's water filters already installed in schools and clinics of Novgorod Region of Russia. In 2008, many cases of aseptic [serous] meningitis in Novgorod's schools have been recorded...