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If Psychic Saiga's World Cup predictions become a hit, they could help draw some welcome attention to the plight of his fellow antelopes. Kazakhstan's saiga population has decline rapidly in recent years.
Meet Psychic Saiga, an antelope that roams the Kazakhstan steppe, and uses his magic powers to predict the 2014 World Cup soccer results. Or so he claims on Twitter.

Using animals to predict soccer match results has become a worldwide craze since Paul the Octopus, who lived in a tank in Oberhausen, Germany, shot to fame by correctly predicting eight matches during the 2010 World Cup, including the final, when he foresaw Spain's victory over the Netherlands. (Paul didn't fare too well in the 2008 European Championship, however, getting two out six predictions wrong.)

Since Paul's impressive run, other animals around the world have attempted to get in on the act.

Big Heads, a turtle in Brazil, Madam Shiva, a guinea pig in Switzerland, and a team of baby pandas in China –to name just a few – are all aiming to predict the winners of each match at the World Cup in Brazil.

Psychic Saiga is also facing competition at home in Kazakhstan from Tomiris the Monkey from the Almaty zoo.

But unlike other psychic animals, Psychic Saiga has never been seen. In fact, there is no evidence that he even exists other than his Twitter account.@psychicsaiga.

Psychic Saiga, or whoever is tweeting in his name, also claims his predictions won't be limited to the World Cup -- or even sports.

"I roam the steppe and use my powers to predict future events via a shaman friend of mine," he tweeted recently.

The antelope, however, got his debut prediction wrong by saying that the opening World Cup game between Brazil and Croatia would end in a draw.


The host, Brazil won the June 12 match, beating Croatia 3-1.

Unfazed by the error, Psychic Saiga blamed it on a "dodgy" call by the referee.

"It should have been a ref from Uzbekistan," he tweeted.

He went on to make more predictions, forecasting victory in matches for Mexico over Cameroon and Chile over Australia on June 13 as well as a draw between Spain and the Netherlands on the same day.

As for the final game, Psychic Saiga predicts Argentina will win the World Cup with a victory over runner-up England.

Will Psychic Saiga be a worthy successor to Paul the Octopus? Will his predictions be better than Madam Shiva's and Big Heads, the turtle's?

If so, he may raise the profile of his fellow Saiga antelopes, an endangered species often hunted by poachers.

The population of Kazakhstan's saigas, which stood at around a million in the 1980s, has now decreased to some 137,000.

-- Farangis Najibullah

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June 12-July 13: Brazil hosts the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
The Week Ahead is a detailed listing of key events of the coming week affecting RFE/RL's broadcast region.

Now on Twitter! Daily updates at @The_Week_Ahead.



MONDAY, June 9:

Iran/EU/U.S.: Diplomats from the United States and the European Union hold talks with Iranian negotiators in Geneva (to June 10).

Iran/Turkey: Iranian President Hassan Rohani visits Ankara.

Kazakhstan: European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) President Suma Chakrabarti visits Astana and Almaty (to June 13).

Pakistan/Nigeria: Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain visits Abuja, capital of Nigeria (to June 12).

Russia/Finland: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visits Helsinki (to June 10).

Tajikistan/Latvia: Latvian President Adris Berzins visits Dushanbe (to June 11).

U.S./Afghanistan/Pakistan: Wilson Center in Washington hosts a discussion titled "Shaping the Future? The Role of the Regional Powers in Afghanistan and Pakistan."


TUESDAY, June 10:

Europe: World Economic Forum (WEF) launches the latest edition of its Europe 2020 Competitiveness Report.

EU/Eastern Partnership: EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fuele attends dinner with senior officials from Eastern Partnership Countries in Brussels.

Russia: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier meet in St. Petersburg.

UK: British Foreign Secretary William Hague and UN Special Envoy for Refugees Angelina Jolie co-chair the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict in London (to June 13).


WEDNESDAY, June 11:

Kazakhstan: U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Fatema Sumar visits Astana (to June 13).

Moldova/EU: European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso visits Chisinau (to June 12).

Moldova/EU: EU-Moldova International Investors' Conference opens in Chisinau (to June 12).

Serbia: Serbian Prime Minister Alexandar Vucic meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

Serbia/Belarus: Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka is scheduled to visit Belgrade.


THURSDAY, June 12:

Brazil: Brazil hosts the 2014 FIFA World Cup (to July 13)

Georgia/EU: European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso visits Tbilisi, meets with Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili.

Russia: Russia Day.

UN: World Day Against Child Labor.

U.S.: New York hosts the annual Human Rights Watch Film Festival (to June 22).


FRIDAY, June 13:

Azerbaijan/EU: European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso visits Baku (to June 15).

Georgia/EU: EU-Georgia International Investors' Conference opens in Tbilisi.


SATURDAY, June 14:

Afghanistan: Second round of the country's presidential election.

WHO: World Blood Donor Day


SUNDAY, June 15:

Belarus
: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visits Minsk (to June 16).

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About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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