Sunday, September 29, 2019

Like Rasputin’s, Shaman’s Appearance Means Radical Changes Ahead for Russia, Podosogorsky Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 26 – The Kremlin has sent the shaman who threatened to exorcise Putin from Russia back to Sakha and intimidated his followers from continuing his march on Moscow, but it can do nothing about what the appearance of a shaman means for Russia and its future given the intense interest he has generated among Russians, Nikolay Podosorgorsky says.

            That is because, the blogger continues, Aleksandr Gabyshev’s appearance recalls that of Rasputin at the end of the Imperial times and those of extra-sensory figures like Kaspirovsky and Chumak at the end of Soviet ones, mystical figures all who attracted attention because people were searching for something (

            And because of that – stories about the shaman ranked fourth among all stories last week in Russian outlets – arresting him does nothing except to add to his mystique. Shamans operate in a different world and have powers that those who arrest them cannot imagine. Indeed, arresting one may cause others to use their powers against those who took this action.

            Podosogorsky cites the observations on Facebook of Vladimir Serkin, a professor at the Higher School of Economics who has written two recent books about shamanism in Russia (The Stars of the Shaman (1917) and The Big Book of the Shaman (1919)), about the shaman and what will happen next (

            Serkin says the real question is why the shaman felt compelled to start his walk given that if he really is a shaman, he could have achieved his goal by incantations within his own home.  But the likely answer, the Moscow professor suggests, is that he wanted to achieve his goal by attracting attention and support from the Russian population.

                Such people can be arrested and confined in a psychiatric hospital as Gabayev has been or they can even be murdered as Rasputin was, but that does nothing to reduce their influence and may even increase it.  “As sociologists have frequently noted, the growth among people of a belief in the irrational is especially characteristic of turning points in history,” the blogger adds.

            And he warns: “even if Shaman Gabyshev soon disappears from the news, it is extremely probable that in his place will appear other magicians and witches.” What matters in this case is not the machinations of political technologists, but “the demand of society” for such people.  It remains high and may even be growing.

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