Accessibility links

Breaking News

Supporters Of Yakut Shaman Stop March To Moscow After 'FSB Threats'

Yakut shaman Aleksandr Gabyshev (2nd right) met hundreds of people on his journey to Moscow to "exorcise" Vladimir Putin.
Yakut shaman Aleksandr Gabyshev (2nd right) met hundreds of people on his journey to Moscow to "exorcise" Vladimir Putin.

IRKUTSK, Russia -- The supporters of a Yakut shaman who was detained while walking from Siberia toward Moscow for months with the declared aim "to drive [President Vladimir] Putin out of the Kremlin" say they have ended their march after "threats" by the Federal Security Service (FSB).

Viktor Yegorov, one of the supporters of shaman Aleksandr Gabyshev, told RFE/RL on September 25 that dozens of Gabishev's followers abandoned the march that they had continued for almost a week after the shaman was detained by security forces on September 19.

Gabyshev walked toward Moscow for several months, saying he expected it to take about two years to reach the Russian capital. He said he considered the Russian president "a creation of dark forces" and that only a shaman can stand against him.

Yegorov said that several men in plainclothes came on September 24 to the camp set up by the shaman's supporters near the town of Slyudyanka, more than 5,000 kilometers east of Moscow, and took several activists to a police station.

Slyudyanka lies at the western end of Lake Baikal.
Slyudyanka lies at the western end of Lake Baikal.

The shaman's followers were told the camp would be stormed by the police and all the members of the group would be officially charged with terrorism if they continued their march.

WATCH: RFE/RL's Russian Service talks with the shaman's followers:

Gabyshev's supporters said that believed the men who detained their colleagues and talked to them were FSB officers.

The deputy chief of the district branch of the Interior Ministry, Aleksandr Ogurtsov, confirmed to RFE/RL that several of Gabyshev's supporters were detained and brought to a police station.

Ogurtsov said they were released shortly after they were officially charged with violation of traffic regulations.

He refused to confirm that the activists were warned they could face terrorism charges.

The chief of the regional Interior Ministry's press service, German Struglin, was not available for comment.

Gabyshev covered more than 2,000 kilometers by foot during his walk and spoke with hundreds of people. As his notoriety rose, videos of his conversations with people along the way showed up on social media, attracting millions of views.

In July, as he reached the city of Chita, Gabyshev gathered some 700 people under the slogan "Russia without Putin!" The shaman said that "God told me Putin is not a human, but instead a demon, and has ordered me to drive him out."

Shaman On Trek 'To Topple Putin' Seized By Masked Men
please wait

No media source currently available

0:00 0:02:32 0:00

On September 19, dozens of masked and armed special-police troops detained Gabyshev in the Siberian region of Buryatia and he was later transferred to his native Yakutia, where he was first placed to a psychiatric clinic and later released.

He was eventually charged with public calls for extremism and ordered not to leave Yakutia's capital, Yakutsk.

Shamans have served as healers and diviners in Siberia for centuries. During the Soviet age of "science and reason," the mystical figures were harshly repressed. But in isolated regions of Siberia, they are regaining importance.