Ninel Sergeyevna Kulagina, better known to the world as Nina, was a tank radio sergeant who was injured in the latter stages of World War II, retired from the battlefield, and started a family. It was at this point that she started displaying psychic powers. From the 1960s to her death in 1990, Kulagina became well-known for her many paranormal skills.
She was said to be able to heal people, see colors with her fingers, and tell people what they had in their pockets. However, her most powerful and famous skill was her psychokinesis – the ability to move objects with her mind.
Kulagina’s psychokinetic abilities were tested numerous times, yet scientists were never able to expose her as fraud. She was incredibly precise with her talent—one experiment had her successfully separating an egg yolk from its white and move them to the opposite ends of the tank they were floating in. Another saw her stopping the heart of a frog with her willpower alone. Luckily, Kulagina was never able to manipulate heavier objects—such as, say, human hearts—because using the powers caused her extreme physical discomfort. Although she was never caught cheating, not everyone believes Kulagina was the genuine article.
Many suspect that she used sleight of hand and other magic trick techniques to pull off her many tricks, while others claim the Soviet Union fabricated the whole thing in order to make Americans nervous. It was the Cold War, after all—what would be scarier than knowing that the enemy country has citizens with superpowers?
Just like Uri Gellar, Nina’s publicized experiments were never under ideal laboratory conditions. She was seen at home or in hotel rooms, without experts in trickery on hand. It’s been claimed that Nina had magnets implanted into her body to manipulate objects; other telekinetic claims could have employed the use of thin wires or mirrors. Yet in the USSR, laboratory experiments were performed on Nina (under the pseudonym Nelya Mikhailova) by several researchers – but no explanation was ever given!
Near the end of her life, Nina seems to have lost the abilities she became so famous for. Her exertion in manifesting these powers was blamed for a near-fatal heart attack in the late 1970s. Sharp pain in her spine, dizziness, blood sugar irregularities, failing eyesight, and many other health concerns plagued her. With deteriorating health, Nina stepped away from the endless scientific testing, conducting very limited experiments in labs up until her death in 1990. And so, the full truth died with her.