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The Russian vampire or uppyr, borrowed from the Ukrainian upyr, became closely associated with the witch and the sorcerer and the concept of heresy.  This view derived from the religious movements that pitted Orthodox Christianity and pre-Christian or pagan practices.  A heretic, or a person who deviated from the church, would become a vampire after death, strengthening the connection between the two as interchangeable.

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The eretik, a sorcerer who would eventually turn vampire, were noted for having the “evil eye,” having sold their souls to the devils, and could often draw victims into their graves by merely catching their gaze.  To destroy a eretik, one would drive an aspen stake into their back or use fire.

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In the Olonecian region of Russia, “accounts suggested that any person, including a pious Christian, could become a vampire if a sorcerer entered and took over the body at the moment of death” (Menton 586).  There were instances of peasants returning home under the guise of recovery only to feed on their unsuspecting families.  In the eastern-central district of Elatomsk, reports of women who sold their souls to the devil roamed the earth to create other vampires or eretiks, and might be found near graveyards, in graves of the impious, and could be identified by their appearance in local bathhouses, where they made unseemly noise.

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Source:

Melton, J. Gordon. The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead.                                                           Canton, Michigan: Visible Ink Press, 1999.

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