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22 Feb, 2019 13:39

Burnt offerings: Shamans probed for SACRIFICING FIVE CAMELS ‘to strengthen Russia’

Burnt offerings: Shamans probed for SACRIFICING FIVE CAMELS ‘to strengthen Russia’

Prosecutors in Buryatia have launched an investigation into a video showing the ritualistic killing of five camels after it went viral and attracted condemnation. Those responsible insist the act was meant to strengthen Russia.

The controversial video was published on February 1, but attracted little attention until going viral this week. It shows Artur Tsibikov, who calls himself the deputy high shaman of Russia, leading a group of supporters in a ritual animal sacrifice. The camels were slaughtered, and their meat was cooked before being laid out along with their pelts on a giant pyre, which was then burned. Drums could be heard during the ritual.


Tsibikov, also known by his shamanic name Zaarin, said the ritual that he and his group conducted was a very rare one, which required a very strong shaman to oversee it. The burnt animals were meant to bring strength to Russia and unify the people inhabiting it, especially the less numerous, like the Buryat people.

The Buryat republic is located on the eastern shore of Lake Baikal and is home to roughly half of the Buryat people, who are estimated to number about 550,000 in the world. The Buryats have a historic cultural connection with the Mongols and preserve many old ways, including traditional cattle breeding and shamanism.

However, many people in Russia didn’t like the video at all, saying that the sacrifice was a barbaric act that has no place in a modern country. Tsibikov and his supporters were accused of animal cruelty, while local law enforcement was called to investigate the alleged crime. Prosecutors for Angarsk Region, where the shamanic group is based, promised to get to the bottom of it.

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Tsibikov’s detractors, however, may be disappointed with the outcome. He told Russian media that the camels had been properly purchased for about $3,000 from livestock meant for slaughter and killed in a regular manner, which – if confirmed – would clear him of accusations of animal cruelty.

Interestingly, some other Buryat shamans denounced Tsibikov too, saying the ritual had nothing to do with the traditional shamanism of the region.

“We reject such rituals, what those people did to the animals. The Buryats consider [the] camel a sacred animal that is never sacrificed. This is neo-shamanism, which goes against our entire canon,”stated Buryat shamanic organization Tengeri.

Tsibikov tried to deflect the criticism, saying that he and his group did nothing worse than Muslims in Russia do every year when they celebrate Eid al-Adha. The Islamic holiday is traditionally marked by feasts and the mass slaughter of lambs.

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