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Russian Authorities Reveal Where Anti-Putin Shaman Is Being Forcibly Confined


Yakut shaman Aleksandr Gabyshev

Russian authorities have finally revealed to which clinic Yakut shaman Aleksandr Gabyshev was transferred after a court ordered him to be confined to forced psychiatric treatment in July, his lawyer says.

Gabyshev had been stopped by the authorities several times as he attempted to march to Moscow by foot in his self-proclaimed effort to drive President Vladimir Putin out of office.

"We have received a written answer to our query from the acting warden of the Detention Center No. 1 in Yakutsk,” the capital of Russia's Far Eastern region of Yakutia, lawyer Aleksei Pryanishnikov wrote on Telegram on October 4.

Pryanishnikov quoted the official as saying Gabyshev was sent to a psychiatric clinic in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, almost 3,000 kilometers west of his native Yakutsk.

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Earlier, the lawyer had told RFE/RL that his client was transferred from Yakutsk to an undisclosed psychiatric clinic.

Gabyshev was found "mentally unfit" during a court hearing where he had been accused of committing a "violent act against a police officer" as he was being taken forcibly from his home to a psychiatric clinic in late January.

The decision to confine Gabyshev for forced psychiatric treatment was challenged by his lawyers and supporters, who say it was an attempt to silence dissent.

Domestic and international human rights organization have condemned the court decision, comparing the move with the Soviet-era practice of using psychiatric clinics to silence dissidents.

Novosibirsk
Novosibirsk

Police have said the incident between Gabyshev and the law enforcement officer took place on January 27, less than three weeks after the shaman had announced a plan to resume his trek to the Russian capital.

Gabyshev's sister, Kyaiyylana Zakharova, told RFE/RL in April that her brother’s state of health had dramatically deteriorated, most likely due to unspecified injections he received while in the psychiatric clinic.

Gabyshev first made headlines in March 2019 when he called Putin "evil" and announced that he had started his march to Moscow. He then walked more than 2,000 kilometers, speaking with hundreds of Russians along the way.

As his notoriety rose, videos of his conversations with people were posted on social media and attracted millions of views.

In July of that year, Gabyshev led a 700-strong rally under the slogan "Russia Without Putin" in the city of Chita.

His march was halted when he was detained in the region of Buryatia later in September and placed in a psychiatric clinic in Yakutia for several months against his will.

Shamans have served as healers and diviners in Siberia for centuries. During the Soviet era, the mystics were harshly repressed, but in isolated parts of Siberia they are now regaining prominence.

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