Siberian Shaman Seeks to Oust Putin in Horseback Crusade

A Siberian shaman whose attempts to trek to Moscow and expel President Vladimir Putin from power ended in his arrest has announced his latest cross-country crusade, this time on horseback.

Authorities in Russia’s Far East republic of Sakha declared Alexander Gabyshev mentally ill and placed him in involuntary confinement for attempting to journey to Moscow with his supporters by foot throughout 2019 and 2020. The self-styled warrior shaman vowed to “exorcise” Putin, whom he described as a “demon,” at the culmination of his journey.

Six months after his July 2020 release from a psychiatric hospital, Gabyshev resurfaced last week with plans to march toward Moscow with his supporters “around March, when it gets warmer.”

“I will leave Yakutsk on a white horse and pass through the land of my ancestors,” Gabyshev said in an audio clip published to YouTube on Saturday.

“We’ll cross all of Siberia, reach the Ural territories and Moscow is just around the corner from there,” Gabyshev said, referring to the distance of nearly 8,500 kilometers.

His message appeared on the Novosti Regionov (“Regional News”) YouTube channel, whose email address traces back to a Sakha-based website developer.

Russian human rights activist Alexei Pryanishnikov confirmed Gabyshev’s intentions to Interfax on Tuesday. 

Gabyshev has not yet found a white horse for his latest campaign but will have no trouble finding one by March, the news agency cited the Pravozashchita Otkrytki advocacy group’s Pryanishnikov as saying.

The plan to restart the cross-country journey marks a sudden reversal from Gabyshev’s announcement last July that he would cease his attempts to reach Moscow by foot.

Rights groups condemned Russian authorities for Gabyshev’s involuntary confinement, comparing it to Soviet-era punitive psychiatry.






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