Siberian Shaman Forced into Psychiatric Ward for Challenging Putin

On September 23, the Yakutsk City Court rejected Aleksandr Gabyshev’s appeal on their July 26 ruling. In July, the city court’s ruling ordered Gabyshev’s indefinite confinement to a psychiatric facility for a mandatory “intensive treatment.” The court determined that Gabyshev lacks legal capacity due to insanity, despite the protest of his defense attorneys.

According to Amnesty International, Aleksandr Gabyshev is a symbol of resistance against Vladimir Putin’s repressive regime. In 2019, Gabyshev became famous for marching almost 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles) from his hometown in Yakutsk towards Moscow. He planned to use his “shamanic powers to ‘purge’ Vladimir Putin from power.”

The 52-year old Gabyshev belongs to a Turkic ethnic group called Yakuts in the Republic of Sakha in northern Russia. The Yakuts initially practiced shamanism but were later converted to Christianity when the Russian federation started taking over. Gabyshev is one of the few who continued practicing shamanism.

Putin’s oppressive government used Gabyshev’s claim against him to suppress his popularity. Halfway through Moscow, in September 2019, police officers nabbed Gabyshev and charged him with making “public calls for extremism.” Gabyshev was forcibly admitted to a psychiatric facility for evaluation but was released two days later.

In May 2020, he was arrested for a supposed covid-19 violation but was released after increasing public outcry.

When Gabyshev announced in January 2021 that he would continue to “exorcise” Putin out of Moscow, the police broke into the house and arrested him. Putin has much more to worry about this time; Gabyshev planned to head out in March 2021 on horseback, with his followers and reporters behind him.

Kyaiyylana Zakharova, Gabyshev’s sister, announced last April that his brother’s health has been deteriorating due to the injections he received while admitted to the psychiatric facility.

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