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Siberian Court Rules Psychiatric Confinement Of Anti-Putin Shaman Lawful

Aleksandr Gabyshev walked more than 2,000 kilometers of the way to Moscow in 2019.
Aleksandr Gabyshev walked more than 2,000 kilometers of the way to Moscow in 2019.

YAKUTSK, Russia -- The Supreme Court of Russia's Yakutia region has ruled that the forced confinement to a psychiatric clinic of a shaman who tried several times to march to Moscow on foot "to drive President Vladimir Putin out of the Kremlin" was legal.

Olga Timofeyeva, a lawyer for Aleksandr Gabyshev, told RFE/RL on March 11 that the court rejected her client's request for an independent expert to be present at the hearing to assess the medical conclusion on his placement in the clinic.

Timofeyeva also said that the court rejected a motion to evaluate Gabyshev by medical and psychiatric experts in any other region of Russia.

Gabyshev was accused by law enforcement of attacking a police officer when he was forcibly taken from his home to a psychiatric clinic in late January.

Police confined him to a psychiatric clinic on January 27, less than three weeks after the shaman had announced plans to resume his trek to the Russian capital to drive Putin out of the Kremlin.

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.

Shaman On 8,000-Kilometer Trek 'To Topple Putin'
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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 and placed in psychiatric clinic in Yakutia against his will.

His forced confinement in a clinic was equated by many with a Soviet-era practice 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 regaining prominence.

With reporting by MBKh Media

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