'Psychic Powers' of Nina Kulagina
the 1960s to 1990 Russian 'psychic'
Nina Kulagina displayed an apparently impressive range of psychic powers, particularly
psychokinesis (the ability to move objects using the mind alone), and was tested
and supposedly found to be genuine by respected scientists. She was caught on several occasions by hidden cameras
using her abilities. Kulagina remains a
controversial figure and her demonstrations of psychic
ability have received
criticism from sceptics who believe the films and experiments show clever
trickery rather than paranormal powers. This would, at present, seem to be the
most likely explanation.
Kulagina was only
14 when the Nazis began the
siege of Leningrad. Like many Leningrad children she had to become a soldier,
and along with her father, brother and sister, she joined the Red Army and was
sent into the thick of the action. The conditions during the 900 day siege were
appalling. Winter temperature sometimes reached forty degrees below zero, bread
rations were about four ounces a day, the water and the electricity were cut
off, and the city was devastated by bombs and artillery fire. Nina served on
the front line in Tank T-34 as a radio operator, and distinguished herself
become senior sergeant. But the fighting came to an end for her when she was
seriously injured by artillery fire. Fortunately, she managed to recover and later settled
down, married and had a son.
of the Mind
that she was always aware of her
There are stories that she could mentally see things inside people?s
pockets, and when she met sick people she could identify the disease they were
suffering from, an image of the illness appearing in her mind. On one occasion
when Kulagina was in a particularly angry mood, she was walking towards a
cupboard in her apartment when a jug in the cupboard suddenly moved to the edge
of the shelf, fell and smashed to pieces on the floor. After that, changes began
to take place in her apartment. Lights went on and off; objects became animated
and seemed somehow to be attracted to her. It was in effect a type
of poltergeist activity, except that Kulagina was convinced the psychic power
was coming from her and discovered that, if she tried, she could control it.
connection between apparently psychic abilities and poltergeist activity has
been noted by researchers on numerous occasions and is also apparent in the case
of English 'psychic'
In 1964, while in hospital recovering from a nervous breakdown, Nina spent a lot
of time sewing. According to published accounts doctors were amazed when they
saw that she was able to reach into her sewing basket and choose any
of thread she needed without looking at it. Local parapsychologists were
contacted and the following year, when she had fully recovered, she agreed to
take part in various experiments. Kulagina was tested and it was found that she
could apparently ?see?
with her fingertips, bringing to mind Rosa Kuleshova, a school teacher from the
Ural Mountains, who also claimed to possess this talent. There are also
instances where Kulagina apparently displayed extraordinary healing powers. She
could, it was said, make wounds heal up simply by holding her hand above them.
She was also tested by Russian scientists for psychokinesis and the results were
apparently so remarkable that, in order to keep her real identity secret, she
was obliged for many years to use the pseudonym of Nelya Mikhailova. What these
remarkable results were, however, has never been exactly stated.
abilities involved her sitting at a table and staring
at a small object,
such as a matchbox or a wineglass, and make it move without touching it.
Apparently her powers did not come straight away, hours of preparation may be
needed, which, as sceptics have pointed out, does not favour the setting up of
strictly supervised demonstrations. In order to move things with mind power
alone she found she had to clear all other thoughts from her head, and told
investigators that when her concentration was successful, there was a sharp pain
in her spine, and her eyesight blurred. Nina practiced hard, focusing her
powers, and was soon able to move matchsticks, fountain pens and compass
needles. There is nothing here, however, which an accomplished stage magician
could not duplicate, though no one at the time in Russia seems to have bothered
One of the first scientists to take an interest in
Biologist Edward Naumov. In an early test, the details of which are as usual
sketchy, he scattered a box of matches on a
bench; Nina held her hands over them, trembling with the strain. Suddenly, all
the matches moved together to the edge of the bench, then fell one by one to the
Psychic Powers on Film
stories about Nina Kulagina began to reach the West
through the international wire services in the spring of 1968. In the same year,
films of Kulagina moving objects, ostensibly using only her mind, were shown at
the First Moscow International Conference on Parapsychology and were also seen
by some Western scientists. For a brief time Western investigators were
permitted to meet Russian mediums, witness Nina Kulagina for themselves and
verify the reports of her PK abilities made by Soviet scientists. In 1970 William
A. McGary, one of a group from the United States investigating psychic phenomena
in Russia, described a session in which Kulagina caused several small objects,
including a wedding ring and the top of a condiment bottle, to move across a
Another of the American investigators, Gaither Pratt, of the
University of Virginia, stated that the objects which Kulagina could move varied
widely in material, shape and weight, and when they moved they generally progressed
in a slow, steady fashion. Only occasionally did the objects which Kulagina
'controlled' move in fits and starts. It is reported that a number of
precautions were taken to make
sure that Kulagina wasn?t using a concealed magnet or threads, and films were
taken of the experiments which seem to confirm that no known force could explain the
movements. Unfortunately, it is not known how thoroughly Kulagina was checked
before the experiment.
Dr. Zdenek Rejdak, a prominent Czech scientist connected
with a Prague Military Institute, tested Kulagina personally and reported the
results for some reason in Czech Pravda,
a far from scientific publication:
visited the Kulagina family the evening of 26 February, 1968. Mr. Blazek, an
editor friend was with me, also a physician, Dr. J.S. Zverev, and Dr. Sergeyev.
Her husband, an engineer, was also present. Dr. Zverev gave Mrs. Kulagina a very
thorough physical examination. Tests with special instruments failed to show any
indication whatever of magnets or any other concealed object.
checked the table thoroughly and also asked Mrs. Kulagina frequently to change
position at the table. We passed a compass around her body and the chair and
table with negative results. I asked her to wash her hands. After concentrating,
she turned the compass needle more than ten times, then the entire compass and
its case, a matchbox and some twenty matches at once. I placed a cigarette in
front of her. She moved that too, at a glance. I shredded it afterwards and
there was nothing inside it. In between each set of tests, she was again
physically examined by the doctor.?
filmed Moscow test, set up by a group
of 'well known physicists', several non-magnetic objects including matches were
placed inside a large Plexiglas cube. The cube was to prevent drafts of air,
threads or wires; methods long favoured by sceptics as the means by which
Kulagina performed her ?tricks?. Her hands moved a few inches from the
Plexiglas cover and the objects danced from side to side in the plastic
container. In another filmed experiment, a ping-pong ball is seen levitating and
hovering in the air for a few seconds, before falling back onto the table. In
yet another she is shown both indoors and outside in a garden, where objects
near her spin round or slide in different directions.
Unfortunately the films are so grainy and unclear that it is often difficult to
see exactly what is happening, and again the background information to the
location, precautions taken, personnel present etc
is not given. Where are the reports of these amazing tests?
additional and lesser known psychic ability of Kulagina, though hardly less sensational,
was noted by physicist Dr. V.F. Shvetz. He claimed that he observed Kulagina
making the letters A or O appear on photo paper and that sometimes
she could also transfer an outline of a picture she?d
seen onto photo paper, recalling the
talents of the controversial Ted Serios in America. Occasionally, unexplained
burn marks appeared on Kulagina?s
hands and there were reports that shocked scientists saw her clothes catch
fire. Towards the end of her life Kulagina demonstrated this phenomenon on TV,
causing a bright red patch to appear on the arm of a European journalist.
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