Alexander Gabyshev is a Siberian shaman who gained notoriety in 2019 for his mission to "exorcise" Russian President Vladimir Putin of what he believes to be demonic influence. Gabyshev embarked on a journey from his home in the far eastern Russian region of Yakutia to Moscow, walking over 8,000 kilometers on foot with the intention of confronting Putin and driving out the evil spirits he believes are controlling him.
Gabyshev's journey began in March 2019, and he gained a following of supporters as he traveled through Russia's vast and remote Siberian wilderness. However, as he got closer to Moscow, he was arrested by Russian authorities on charges of "organizing an extremist community" and "calling for mass disorder." Gabyshev was detained in a psychiatric hospital for several months before being transferred to a prison in Yakutsk, the capital of the Yakutia region.
While in custody, Gabyshev continued to make headlines with his predictions of impending disaster and his calls for Putin to step down. He claimed that a great upheaval was coming, and that Putin's removal from power was the key to averting disaster. Gabyshev also predicted a major earthquake that he said would hit Russia's far eastern region, although the timing and severity of the quake remained unclear.
Despite widespread support from activists and human rights groups, Gabyshev's case was controversial in Russia, with many viewing him as a threat to national security. In February 2020, he was convicted on the charges of "organizing an extremist community" and "calling for mass disorder" and sentenced to forced psychiatric treatment. However, in July 2020, he was released from custody and allowed to return home to Yakutia, where he has continued to preach his message of spiritual awakening and political change.
Gabyshev's story highlights the challenges faced by those who dare to challenge the status quo in Russia, particularly under Putin's authoritarian regime. While his predictions and beliefs may be dismissed as eccentric or even delusional by some, they also reflect a deeper discontent with the state of affairs in Russia and a desire for change.
The persecution of regional anti-Putin activists is a well-documented phenomenon in Russia, and it is often carried out by the government or its supporters as a means of suppressing dissent and opposition to the Kremlin.
Regional activists in Russia face numerous challenges, including restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly, arbitrary detentions, and physical attacks. The Russian government has used various laws, such as the "extremism" law and laws regulating public gatherings, to target opposition activists and civil society organizations, making it difficult for them to operate and express their views.
In recent years, several high-profile cases of persecution of anti-Putin activists have made headlines. For example, in 2019, Yegor Zhukov, a student and anti-government activist, was arrested and charged with "inciting extremism" for his criticism of the government. Similarly, in 2020, Sergei Smirnov, the editor-in-chief of the independent news outlet Mediazona, was arrested and charged with "disseminating false information" in connection with his reporting on police brutality.
Regional activists who speak out against the Kremlin also face harassment and intimidation from government supporters, including far-right groups and pro-government media outlets. Such attacks often go unpunished, and the victims are left without any recourse for justice.
The persecution of regional anti-Putin activists in Russia is a worrying trend, as it limits the space for dissent and undermines the principles of democracy and human rights. To address this problem, it is essential for the Russian government to respect freedom of speech, assembly, and association and ensure that civil society organizations can operate freely without fear of persecution or harassment. The international community can also play an important role in supporting Russian activists and advocating for their rights.
The persecution of regional anti-Putin activists in Russia has been a longstanding issue, and there have been numerous cases of harassment, intimidation, and arrests of opposition figures and civil society activists. Here are some examples:
- Alexei Navalny: Alexei Navalny is one of the most prominent anti-Putin activists in Russia. He has been arrested several times, most recently in January 2021, after returning to Russia from Germany, where he received medical treatment following a poisoning attempt. Navalny's arrest led to widespread protests across Russia, with thousands taking to the streets to demand his release.
- Yulia Tsvetkova: Yulia Tsvetkova is a feminist and LGBTQ+ activist who was arrested and charged with "pornography distribution" in 2020 for her artwork and social media posts. She faced up to six years in prison for her activism but was released in March 2021 after her case sparked international outrage and solidarity campaigns.
- Lev Ponomarev: Lev Ponomarev is a veteran human rights activist who has been involved in civil society work in Russia since the 1960s. In 2020, he was fined for organizing a peaceful rally in support of imprisoned protesters. The case against Ponomarev drew widespread condemnation from human rights organizations and activists.
Despite the challenges faced by anti-Putin activists and civil society organizations in Russia, there have been some small victories in the resistance against the Kremlin's regime. For example:
- The release of Yulia Tsvetkova: As mentioned above, Yulia Tsvetkova's case drew international attention and solidarity, which may have contributed to her eventual release from detention.
- The success of independent media: Despite the Kremlin's efforts to suppress independent media in Russia, several outlets, such as Meduza and Novaya Gazeta, have continued to report on political and social issues. These outlets have exposed corruption and human rights abuses, and have helped to shed light on the challenges faced by opposition activists and civil society organizations.
- The growth of grassroots activism: Despite the risks involved, many Russians have continued to speak out against the government and advocate for political change. This includes activists working on issues such as environmentalism, LGBTQ+ rights, and anti-corruption, among others. While the Russian government has sought to suppress these voices, they continue to play an important role in shaping public opinion and promoting democratic values.
While it is apparent that Kremlin controlls the agenda in Russia by a continious and consistent application of ruthless, harsh, vicious and immoral practices against any actuvusts where deceipt, browbeating, blackmail, taking hostages, extrajudicial killings and inciting beatings and even murders, carefully organised hooliganism and more, are just some of the practices of the the Main Directorate for Combating Extremism of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation, also known as Center "E", is an independent structural unit of the central office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation, to my personal surprise, there is a fair passive resistance to the faschist regime reigning now in the Russian Federation.
Usually, this resistance is tacit and unspoken, mostly having to do with very shy attempts to disseminate the truth about the actions of the regime.
Alexander Gabyshev however is a very special case. Alexander Gabyshev gained significant attention and support in Russia, particularly in his home region of Yakutia, for several reasons and here are some of the factors that contributed to his popularity:
- Appeal to local traditions: Shamanism is a traditional spiritual practice in Yakutia, and Gabyshev's journey to Moscow to confront Putin resonated with many locals who saw it as a way of defending their traditions and culture. Gabyshev's message of spiritual awakening and political change also appealed to those who were disillusioned with the current political system and looking for alternative voices.
- Social media: Gabyshev's journey gained significant attention on social media, particularly among young people. He used social media platforms to document his journey and communicate with supporters, which helped to build a wider audience for his message.
- Repression by the government: Gabyshev's detention by Russian authorities, as well as the charges against him, were seen by many as evidence of government repression and a violation of his rights. This helped to galvanize support for Gabyshev, with many seeing him as a victim of state repression.
- Personal charisma: Gabyshev's personality and appearance also played a role in his popularity. He was known for his distinctive style of dress, which included a fur hat and colorful robes, and his outspoken personality. His charisma and unconventional style helped to build his profile and make him a popular figure in Yakutia.
- A personal dedication. Shaman Gabyshev is clearly showing a neglect to his own personal fate taking the resposibility for a a higher goal that he considers more important than his mere life thus showing an exceptional valor under the exposure to the imminent threat to his life.
Overall, Gabyshev's journey and message resonated with many Russians, particularly those who were looking for alternative voices and solutions to the challenges facing the country. Despite his arrest and detention, Gabyshev's message of spiritual awakening and political change has continued to inspire and motivate many people in Russia and beyond, incuding me personally, by the way.