Russian vampires

Russia, Byelorussia, and the Ukraine

The most common name for an undead vampire in Russia is upir, sometimes spelled as upyr. In the Ukraine the word is upior, and in Byelorussia it is upar. In all of these regions, the undead vampire was sometimes said to be a corpse possessed by the devil.

The means of destroying the Eastern Slavic vampire include driving a wooden stake through the exhumed corpse’s heart or some other critical part of the body, decapitation, and cremation. But in some districts the corpse of a suspected vampire was dumped into a lake or a river.

In northern and central European Russia and some other parts of the general region, eretich (literally meaning “heretic”) came to be a special term for a vampire, applied to anyone who became an undead vampire as the result of dying outside the Christian Orthodox Faith. But it applied most especially to evil sorcerers and witches who returned from graves after dying and who had sold their souls to the devil while they were still alive.

In an account from one district in central European Russia, the heretics were women who had sold their souls to the devil. After their death, they passed as living women and specialized in turning living Orthodox Christians against their faith. At night they slept in graveyards, occupying the graves of those who died unfaithful.

Sorcery and vampirism also combined in the belief that even a good person could become an upir after he died by the intervention of an evil sorcerer who magically took possession of his soul.