Protesters in Ulan-Ude want to scrap Sunday's mayoral election results and free followers of a ‘Putin exorcist’
Demonstrators have assembled without a permit in the central square of Ulan-Ude, a city in East Siberia. According to the news website Babr24, protesters initially demanded that police release the arrested followers of Alexander Gabyshev, a Yatkutsk resident who calls himself a “warrior shaman” and since March has been traveling on foot to Moscow, where he intends to perform an “exorcism” to remove the spirit of Vladimir Putin from the city.
Irkutsk Senator Vyacheslav Markhaev and Buryatia parliament member Bair Tsyrenov — the leaders of the Communist Party in Buryatia — say they support the protesters, who have started criticizing the region’s authorities more broadly and challenging Sunday’s mayoral election results. Demonstrators now want an entirely new mayoral election.
Bair Tsyrenov told the news agency Rosbalt that roughly 150 people are protesting. Police are reportedly on the scene and have asked the demonstrators to disperse, but there have been no arrests at the time of this writing.
On September 8, Ulan-Ude held elections for mayor and city council. Vyacheslav Markhaev lost to United Russia candidate Igor Shutenkov. In early August, Markhaev became one of the few politicians in Russia to criticize the authorities’ crackdown on peaceful protesters in Moscow. A former riot-police commander, Markhaev called the city’s response “unlawful and professionally illiterate.”