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Yakut shaman planning to ‘drive out Putin’ re-committed to psychiatric clinic

Self-described shaman Alexander Gabyshev — who is best known for attempting several cross-country campaigns to “drive Putin from the Kremlin” — has been re-committed to a psychiatric clinic in the Siberian city of Yakutsk for refusing to undergo treatment. This was confirmed in a statement on the institution’s website.

Gabyshev’s arrest and forced hospitalization was reported on Wednesday, January 27. According to the human rights organization Pravozashchita Otkrytki, law enforcement officers raided Gabyshev’s home, breaking down the door and confiscating his personal belongings. Afterwards, state investigators initiated a pre-investigation probe on alleged “violence against government officials” during the search.

“Alexander Gabyshev’s door has been broken down, all of his things are scattered, on the floor there’s stains that look like blood. His phone and notebooks were all confiscated. The shaman’s supporters were kept outside of the fence, they weren’t allowed in the yard. Riot police and cars with flashing lights were on duty a kilometer away from the house. At Alexander’s sister’s house, before his capture, law enforcement officers closed all the shutters on the outer windows.” 
Pravozashita Otkrytki
Shaman Alexander Gabyshev’s dog

According to the Yakutsk Psychoneurological Dispensary (the clinic where Gabyshev was committed), he was under “active observation” from July to December 2020: he met with a doctor there and was taking medication.

“But in mid-December he came in and said that he would no longer go to his appointments, that he categorically refuses to be treated. He was scheduled for another appointment at the clinic in January. He didn’t show up to the clinic at the scheduled time,” the statement said.

Doctors tried to contact Gabyshev but were unsuccessful, so they reached out to the police for help. “The patient is currently at the Dispensary and under the supervision of doctors,” the clinic added.  

Shaman Alexander Gabyshev first set off from Yakutsk to Moscow with plans to “drive out” Russian President Vladimir Putin in the spring of 2019. Since then, Russian law enforcement have arrested Gabyshev, forced him into psychiatric treatment, and initiated legal proceedings against him on multiple occasions.

In December 2019, Gabyshev announced a second attempt at his campaign, but he was arrested immediately and fined for disobeying police.

Gabyshev planned a third attempt at his campaign last March, and then again in the summer of 2020, planning to travel on horseback. However, in May 2020 he was forcibly taken to a psychiatric clinic and kept there for two months. Following his forced hospitalization, the Russian human rights group Memorial declared Gabyshev a political prisoner.

In January 2021, Gabyshev announced plans to undertake another campaign across the country on horseback in March.

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