Russian shamans ask to protect Abramovich's pregnant girlfriend

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(AFP)

Shamans gathered recently in Russia's Arctic region of Chukotka to summon spirits and ask them to protect billionaire Roman Abramovich's unborn baby, a report in mass-circulation Moskovsky Komsomolets said Thursday.

Shamans -- indigenous people believed to have healing powers and the ability to communicate with the spirit world -- gathered after they heard that Abramovich's girlfriend, socialite Darya Zhukova, was pregnant, the newspaper report said.

Zhukova is now seven months pregnant and the shamans asked the spirits to protect her at this "especially important and serious" time, the report said, without saying where it obtained the information.

"Abramovich has done a lot for the indigenous peoples of the Far North," said Dmitry Voyevodin, an academic who studies shamanist rituals.

"The shamans are a grateful bunch if their people have been treated well," he told AFP.

Abramovich, Russia's maverick media-shy billionaire and owner of Chelsea football club, served as the governor of Chukotka between 2000 and 2008 and has invested at least one billion dollars of his personal wealth into the impoverished Arctic region.

Last year, Abramovich was elected speaker of the regional parliament amid fears that his departure would lead to a collapse of the local economy.

While Zhukova has publicly declined to discuss the sex of her future child, a report this week in another tabloid newspaper, Express Gazeta, said the child will be a boy, citing a shaman.

The child will be born on a Sunday, the shaman added.

Abramovich divorced his wife of 15 years in 2007.

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