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Shaman Who Sought To 'Drive Putin From Kremlin' Forced Into Psychiatric Clinic Again

Yakut shaman Aleksandr Gabyshev (file photo)
Yakut shaman Aleksandr Gabyshev (file photo)

YAKUTSK, Russia -- A shaman in the Siberian region of Yakutia who has had several attempts to march on foot to Moscow "to drive President Vladimir Putin out of the Kremlin" stopped by authorities, has been forcibly taken to a psychiatric clinic again after announcing a plan to resume his trek to the Russian capital.

Aleksei Pryanishnikov, legal coordinator for the opposition group Open Russia, told RFE/RL on January 27 that police and officials at a psychiatric clinic in Yakutia's capital, Yakutsk, had detained Aleksandr Gabyshev while giving little information on the reasons.

"At this point, we do not know on what grounds they detained him. I think we will get the details tomorrow," Pryanishnikov said, adding that Gabyshev’s lawyers are now with him.

On January 9, Gabyshev said heplanned to leave in March for the Russian capital from his native Yakutia on horseback in another attempt to try to drive Putin out of the Kremlin. His supporters were expected to follow in cars.

Gabyshev first made headlines in March 2019 when he called Putin "evil" and announced that he had started a march to Moscow to drive the Russian president out of office.

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 that year, when Gabyshev reached the city of Chita, he led a 700-strong rally under the slogan "Russia without Putin!"

At the time, Gabyshev said, "God told me that Putin is not human but a demon, and has ordered me to drive him out."

His march was halted when he was detained in the region of Buryatia later in September.

His forced stay in a clinic was equated by many with a Soviet-era practice used to muzzle dissent.

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 returning to prominence.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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