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20 Sep, 2019 17:15

‘Warrior-shaman’ who set out to oust ‘demon Putin’ is detained & sent for mental health check

‘Warrior-shaman’ who set out to oust ‘demon Putin’ is detained & sent for mental health check

The bizarre journey of a “warrior-shaman,” who sought to “oust Putin” from the Kremlin, seems to have reached an end with the man’s admission to a mental health facility. The shaman, however, claims he’s facing criminal charges.

The self-styled “warrior-shaman,” known to others as Aleksandr Gabyshev, came into the media spotlight earlier this year when he set out on foot for Moscow from the Republic of Yakutia. The man claimed he was seeking to oust President Vladimir Putin – whom he described as a “demon” – and to restore “democracy” in the country after God had instructed him to do so.

Gabyshev promptly attracted a handful of quite shady followers, including ex-convicts, who set up a YouTube channel and other social media for the shaman to address his supporters – and to crowdfund his president-ousting mission. The journey, covering some 8,000km, was expected to take some two years, yet it was brought to an abrupt halt this week, after the shaman had only travelled some 3,000 km.

He was detained on Thursday by a large group of armed police officers and transferred by plane to a state mental clinic in Yakutsk for a health evaluation. According to Yakutia police, the man was detained over an unspecified crime, allegedly committed earlier in the republic.

The shaman himself insists that he is facing charges over his calls for the ouster of Putin. There’s no official word on any criminal investigation into his anti-state activities. Moreover, the man was reportedly released for a day from the institution to visit his sister – after he simply promised to willingly return.

The local shamanic union – there’s one in Yakutia – had earlier disavowed Gabyshev, stating that he was not a legit practitioner but rather a self-styled shaman, and a “very ill man.” The shaman had lost his wife a few years ago and has struggled to overcome the loss. Gabyshev admitted that his friends had urged him to seek mental health, though his mother had prevented him from becoming institutionalized.

Gabyshev’s anti-state activities cast a shadow on all shamanism, leader of the union Bair Tsyrendorzhiyev cautioned in August, expressing the fear that the “hype” around him might ultimately lead to the religious movement being branded as an extremist sect.

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Shamanism beliefs are still strong in some parts of Russia – in Siberian regions, primarily. The practitioners of it, shamans, are believed to be able to communicate with the spirit world through attaining altered states of consciousness.

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