Russia: Siberian shaman on a march against Putin must be released

Responding to reports that Aleksandr Gabyshev, a Siberian shaman walking across Russia to Moscow and promising to use his magic powers to “purge” President Vladimir Putin in 2021, was abducted by a squad of masked law enforcement officials and held in an undisclosed location, Amnesty International’s Russia Director Natalia Zviagina said:

The Russian authorities response to the shaman’s actions is grotesque. Aleksandr Gabyshev should be free to express his political views and exercise his religion and beliefs just like anyone else.

The Russian authorities response to the shaman’s actions is grotesque. Aleksandr Gabyshev should be free to express his political views and exercise his religion and beliefs just like anyone else
Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International's Russia Director

“In today’s Russia, it's just another act of brutal suppression of human rights. Since Aleksandr Gabyshev started his epic journey, he has committed no offence and his detention is arbitrary and may amount to an enforced disappearance.

“The Russian authorities must reveal Aleksandr Gabyshev’s fate and whereabouts and release him immediately and unconditionally. He is prisoner of conscience deprived of liberty solely for peaceful exercising his rights to freedom of expression and assembly.”

Background

Aleksandr Gabyshev, a shaman from the Russian republic of Yakutia, began his 8,000km journey to Moscow in March. Since then, he has covered about 3,000km, attracted many followers and addressed numerous spontaneous public gatherings along the way.

According to eyewitnesses, on the morning of 19 September, armed and masked law enforcement officials encircled the site near the village of Vydrino where Aleksandr Gabyshev was camping with his companions. They took away the shaman without revealing their identities or explaining their actions. His fate and whereabouts are still unknown.

Earlier this month, several of his supporters were arrested in Ulan-Ude, capital of the Russian republic of Buryatia, and two cars used in the march were confiscated. Protests against the arrests in Ulan-Ude began on 9 September but were violently dispersed by the police on 12 September.