YAKUTSK, Russia -- A shaman in Russia's Siberian region of Yakutia who has had several attempts to march to Moscow by foot "to drive President Vladimir Putin out of the Kremlin” stopped by the authorities has announced a plan to resume his trek to Moscow in March.
In an audio statement placed on YouTube, Aleksandr Gabyshev says this time he plans to cover the thousands of kilometers from his native Yakutia to the Russian capital on horseback, with his supporters most likely following in cars.
"We will cross all Siberia, reach the Urals, from where it will be just a short jump to Moscow," Gabyshev says.
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 the Kremlin.
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, he 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.
He was transferred to Yakutia, where he was confined to a psychiatric clinic and held there for several weeks.
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.