Saturday, July 13, 2019

‘Putin is a Demon and I Must Exorcise Him,’ Sakha Shaman Tells Record Crowd in Chita

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 12 – After walking more than 2,000 kilometers over the last four month, Sakha shaman Aleksandr Gabyshev reached his first major Russian city, Chita, where he told a crowd of more than 300 that they should no longer take orders from Vladimir Putin, that the Kremlin leader is “a demon,” and that as a shaman, he will drive Putin out of Moscow next year.

            He and his supporters had hoped for an even larger turnout, and pictures of the crowd suggest that many in attendance were there more from curiosity than to show support. But local media nonetheless say his rally was the largest ever in that city’s designated protest area (; cf., and

            More people might have attended had it not been for a campaign unleashed by the Chita bishopric of the Russian Orthodox Church which declared that the shaman’s appearance would be “a provocation” and that the shaman himself was mentally ill. The church was especially upset that the shaman had scheduled the rally at on the Day of the Apostles Peter and Paul.

            “God told me,” the shaman told those who came to hear him, “that Putin isn’t a human being but a demon and that I must exorcise him.” He said that he would use “peaceful methods like popular assemblies and meetings,” but that if those don’t work, Gabyshev continued, then “other methods” will have to be considered.

            During his remarks, the shaman declared several times that “the main force in Russia at all levels must be the popular assembly” and that from now on, Russians must live freely and not take orders from Putin.  At the end of the meeting which was conducted and dispersed peacefully, the crowd joined him in singing a Cossack hymn.

(For background on the Sakha shaman and the attention he has already attracted, see

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