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Russia: detained Siberian shaman with 'magic powers' must be released

Aleksandr Gabyshev has already walked 3,000 kilometres on his journey to Moscow © Александр Габышев Шаман / YouTube

Aleksandr Gabyshev had been on 8,000km trek to Moscow to ‘purge’ country of President Putin

Gabyshev taken away by masked law-enforcement officials earlier today

‘What sounds like a tale from Russian folklore has become, in today’s Russia, just another act of brutal suppression of human rights’ - Natalia Zviagina

Responding to reports that Aleksandr Gabyshev - a Russian shaman who had been on a six-month-long trek from his native Siberia toward Moscow saying he would use his magic powers to “purge” President Putin in 2021 - has been abducted by a squad of masked law-enforcement officials and held in an undisclosed location, Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International’s Russia Director, said:

“The shaman’s actions may be eccentric, but the Russian authorities’ response is grotesque. Are they truly afraid of his magical powers? 

“Aleksandr Gabyshev should be free to express his political views and exercise his religion just like anyone else.

“What sounds like a tale from Russian folklore has become, in today’s Russia, 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.”

8,000km journey

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, earlier today armed and masked law-enforcement officials encircled the site near the village of Vydrino where 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 three days later.

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