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“Sex-training” courses sweep across Belarus

On 26 February, Thai police arrested Belarusian model Nastya Rybka (Anastasiya Vashukevich) and her Belarus-born “sex coach” Alex Lesley (Alexander Kirillov) on charges of arranging “sex-training” courses in Thailand without work permits. Prior to this, Rybka and Lesley sparked...

Belarusian model Nastya Rybka advertises a seduction course. Source: The Instagram of Nastya Rybka.

On 26 February, Thai police arrested Belarusian model Nastya Rybka (Anastasiya Vashukevich) and her Belarus-born “sex coach” Alex Lesley (Alexander Kirillov) on charges of arranging “sex-training” courses in Thailand without work permits.

Prior to this, Rybka and Lesley sparked a major sex-scandal in Russia involving oligarch Oleg Deripaska and the Russian deputy prime minister Sergei Prikhodko. Rybka subsequently claimed to be in possession of secret recordings proving Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election and requested US asylum.

While Russians have paid between $600 to $1500 for Lesley’s seduction classes in Moscow, Belarusians eagerly splash similar amounts of money on “sex training” courses and consultations with parapsychologists. Belarusian astrologers, bioenergy consultants, and “sex coaches” vigorously advertise themselves on the internet. The general decline in levels of education, as well as the demographic gender imbalance, have created a perfect breeding ground for the appearance of numerous occult practitioners and self-proclaimed “sex experts” in Belarus.

Nastya Rybka and Alex Lesley – the most famous Belarusian “sex-coaches”

Although several Western media has described Rybka and Lesley as merely “a call-girl and her pimp”, the Belarusian duo lived a much more diverse lifestyle. Nastya Rybka participated in fashion shows, agitated in support of Harvey Weinstein, and released a book called “The Diary of How to Seduce a Billionaire”. Lesley published bestsellers on seduction practices and quietly worked for Skolkovo Innovation Centre (the Russian analogue of Silicon Valley) in the meantime.

While professional psychologists described Lesley’s seduction advice as little more than manipulation techniques, “EKSMO” – one of the largest publishing houses in Russia –  has published his books for years. According to Lesley, in order to win the affections of the opposite sex, women should aspire to become “huntresses”, and men – to train as “masters”. “Masters and huntresses” skilfully play with feelings of their “victims” using a carrot and stick approach. The top “huntress”, Rybka, has widely praised Lesley’s guidance, which helped her to lure Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska on a yacht trip near Norway.

Nastya Rybka and Alex Lesley arrested in Thailand. Source: CBC News.

At the same time, Lesley’s “sex training” classes have nothing to do with professional psychological help. Neither Rybka nor Lesley holds a degree in practical psychology. They preach a dubious philosophy of “the hunt”, which might eventually harm human relationships. Nevertheless, the Belarusian duo previously arranged tens of “sex-training” courses in Belarus, Russia and Thailand. Until the outbreak of the Deripaska-Prikhodko sex scandal, the Russian authorities turned a blind eye to the self-proclaimed “sex-gurus”. In this way, the scandalous arrest of Rybka and Lesley in Thailand has seriously harmed the growing industry of unlicensed psychological counselling in CIS states.

Why do “sex coaches” prey on Belarusian women?

Rybka and Lesley represent the tip of an iceberg; regularly held “sex-training” courses can be found in Belarus. Numerous “sex-coaches” skilfully exploit Belarus’s demographic imbalance. Taking into account the fact that at least 6% of Belarusian women will not meet a marriage partner, the competition for the available men remains high. To increase their attractiveness and competitiveness in the “marriage market”, women eagerly subscribe to well-advertised “sex training” courses.

A range of Belarusian “sex coaches” and “sex schools” skilfully apply aggressive marketing techniques. For instance, one Belarusian “school of feminity” – calling itself “Blueberry Nights” – offers a range of courses across major cities in Belarus.  A one-day class called “Scheherazade Tales” offers to teach “top-secret seduction techniques used by intelligence operatives” as well as methods of hidden hypnosis to lure men.

Another “sex-training” course offered by “Blueberry Nights” – a  one-day class titled “The School of a Skilful Lover” – promises to teach how to sweep men off their feet. A two-day course, “A Magnet for Men”, applies a combination of parapsychological exercises, after which women should learn “how to turn themselves into a honeytrap”. A five-week “sex-training” course, “the Geisha school”, offers an intensive coaching to help women become “the strongest drug” for the opposite sex. At the same time, the “school of feminity” does not provide satisfaction guarantees.

Apart from Belarusian “sex coaches”, foreign specialists also frequently visit Belarus, mostly from Russia and Ukraine. For instance, a “sex coach” from Moscow, Oksana Alexeeva, holds a one-day “Sacral Sexuality” seminar this week, where women will learn how to “uncover deep-down sexuality”.  Numerous “sex-training” retreats bring Belarusian participants to Sochi and Crimea each summer.

Due to a high demand, prices for sex-courses do not correlate with the average Belarusian salary ($426 in 2017). “Blueberry Nights” charges approximately $200-300 for a one-day “sex-training” class and $300-400 for a two or three-day “sex-training” seminar.  Oksana Alexeeva’s one-day class costs $225. A week-long “sex-training” retreat in Russia starts from $600.

Parapsychologists bombard the Belarusian internet

Apart from the regular  announcements by “sex-training” courses, the Belarusian internet bustles with adverts from various occult consultants, including astrologers, magicians,  and “energy” specialists. The most popular occult services include astrology prognoses, Bert Hellinger’s family therapy sessions, “energy” revivals, and esoteric practices.

A well-known Belarusian astrologer, Tatsiana Kalinina, advertises her services in VKontakte. Source: vk.com

Since Belarusian legislation prohibits the public advertisement of occult practices, astrologers and magicians have no choice but to promote themselves on the internet. For instance, a well-known Belarusian astrologer, Tatsiana Kalinina, runs a personal web-page and numerous accounts on social networks. She frequently appears in television talk-shows and publishes horoscopes for politicians and film stars on her blog. Tatsiana advertises a range of services, including a career horoscope, marriage prediction, and seminars for astrology beginners.

Many Belarusians eagerly pay for occult services in hope of quickly resolving their personal issues. Hence the prices of such services do not correlate with the average Belarusian salary.  Tatsiana Kalinina’s individual consultation costs $100, a session of “energy revival” costs between $80-100, and an individual consultation of a shaman starts from $200.

In conclusion, Belarusians of all ages aspire to build successful relationships, improve health, and reach financial stability. Demographic imbalance pushes Belarusian women into competition for available men.Therefore, occult practitioners and “sex coaches” will continue to flourish. With the decline of education level and scientific research in Belarus, mass critical thinking diminishes, and magical thinking develops instead. This creates an additional ground for pseudo-experts to exploit a naïve faith in miracles.

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Olga Hryniuk
Olga Hryniuk
Olga Hryniuk holds degrees from Coventry University and the European Humanities University. She is based in Minsk, Belarus.
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