Sunday, July 7, 2019

Will a Shaman from Sakha Do What Russian Opposition Can’t – Drive Out Putin from Moscow?

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 6 – Aleksandr Gabyshev, a shaman from Sakha, has been walking for four months already on his way to Moscow where he expects to arrive next year and to expel from the capital Vladimir Putin whom he views as “the spawn of dark forces with which only the power of a shaman can cope.”

            In the course of the 2,000 kilometers he has already walked, Gabyshev has spoken with hundreds of drivers and video clips of him have attracted more than a million views from Russians across the country. Chita opposition groups say they will even organize a special meeting for him when he arrives in that city.

            Andrey Zatirko, a correspondent for Radio Liberty’s Sibir.Realii portal, walked with the shaman for several kilometers and became convinced by what he saw and heard that Russians who live in rural backwaters are quite ready to believe in the shaman or indeed in any other mystic “if that will help” (

            Gabyshev, 51, has attracted quite a following. People come to shake his hand, to be photographed with him, and to give him food. Some walk with him for long distances, and one of those says that he “believes in miracles” and that it is possible that the shaman is one of those people, “born every 500 years” who are capable of changing the world.

                So many people along the way are interested in the shaman that he often makes no more than eight kilometers a day and not the 20 that he has planned.  The love of the Russian people along his track for him is overwhelming. Most truck drivers share his hatred of Putin and provide support. (Gabyshev left home in March with only 3,000 rubles (50 US dollars) in his pocket.

            The shaman says that “democracy must be without fear” but that now in Russia “people are afraid to speak.” What is worse, he continues, is that Putin having set up this system in Russia is trying to extend it to the entire rest of the world. He must be stopped and perhaps only a shaman with his special powers can do that.

            Gabyshev says that he is especially pleased that modern technology allows him to communicate with a large number of people and explain what he is doing. “We are carrying out a fight. A new world is coming,” and he wants to help it come into being by ousting Putin from the Kremlin.

            The first big city on his route is Chita, and the shaman says he places particular hope in its people. If they show up in sufficient numbers, other Russian cities will follow, and perhaps Putin will get the message. If he leaves soon, then the shaman’s task will be completed; and he will not have to walk on to Moscow where he expects to arrive in August 2021.

            The shaman’s political program is simple: local administration is the most important thing because by its means the people will be strengthened.  When Russians took sovereignty in the 1990s to the local level, they didn’t separate, although the union republics did.  But that was their right and no one should be held by force alone.

            Gabyshev told the Sibir.Realii journalist that after the death of his wife, he went mad for three years and was even confined to a psychiatric hospital. Then he was cured after spending time in rural areas where he became a shaman.  He said that he doesn’t fear any effort by officials to send him back for treatment. Let them try, he continued.

            “I believe in God and in Christ. He made a man of me. All my strength was taken away and I became a simple man. A shaman on the other hand is condemned to loneliness and I do not want to be lonely forever.”

            “For me, the departure of Putin will be a victory,” the expulsion of “a demon.” Then the Russian people will have the chance to select their own leaders and make their own choices.

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