Staunton, June 3 – After a Russian court ordered Aleksandr Gabyshev forcibly confined and treated in a psychiatric facility, Yakutsk mayor Sardana Avksentiyeva posted on her Instagram account a denunciation of this action, declaring that it represented a dangerous return to the punitive use of psychiatry by officials against opponents.
She said that it was not for her to decide whether Gabyshev was a shaman or not – various people have various opinions on that – but “the absolute majority of us” don’t like such actions because they open the way to the use of drugs and other techniques to punish people and change their minds (newsru.com/russia/02jun2020/sardana.html).
Avktsentiyeva, an opposition politician known for speaking her mind, added that she was not empowered to interfere in the activities of medical institutions, the police or the courts; but at the same time, she pointed out that she had taken an oath “to preserve the rights and freedoms of man and citizen.”
This is the latest twist in the long-running story of the shaman who promised to walk to Moscow and “exorcise” the evil spirt that Vladimir Putin embodies. Instead of treating him as a marginal figure, Moscow officials have pursued and persecuted him as if he were someone who directly threatened Putin and themselves.
By acting in this way, they may prove to be right: By attracting such public support as a declaration by the mayor of the capital of the Republic of Sakha, Gabyshev may be a threat not directly as some at the center thought but indirectly as the trigger for growing concern about the behavior of the powers that be.
If officials even at the local and republic level cease to be afraid to speak against what the Moscow regime is doing – and in the case of the shaman, they have every reason to do so – that will undermine the authority of those inside the ring road. And quite possibly, it may open the way to forcing out those who no longer seem capable of rational actions or reversing course.