Support The Moscow Times!

Siberian Shamans Revive Ancient Camel-Burning Rite ‘to Help Russia’


A recent video showing Siberian shamans performing a sacrificial burning of camels “for the consolidation of Russia and its peoples” has outraged online users and drawn the prosecutors’ attention.

Footage dated Feb. 1 showed shamans in the Irkutsk region dragging two-humped camels, lighting a bonfire and beating traditional tambourines in a circle. In the video, Russia’s deputy head shaman Artur Tsybikov is heard explaining that a total of five camels had been sacrificed.

“As shamans, we’ve decided to do what we can with our prayers to help our state, our people, the peoples inhabiting our vast country,” Tsybikov said.

In addition to reaching more than five dislikes for every like, the video has drawn the attention of local authorities. The prosecutor’s office in the Irkutsk city of Angarsk announced Friday that it was inspecting the video that had presumably been filmed in its district.

A group of adherents of traditional Shamanism said it was taboo to sacrifice animals other than sheep and, in rare occasions, goats and horses. Fellow shamans from Buryatia across Lake Baikal have also criticized the practice as “barbaric,” the Irkutsk edition of the Komsomolskaya Pravda tabloid reported Wednesday.

Tsybikov’s chief Kara-Ool Tyulyushevich called the burning of camels “sadism” on Friday.

Tsybikov volunteered to pay a fine for carrying out the tradition that he claims has not been performed for 300 years.

The controversial rite appeared online after a video published earlier this month showed a congregation of Russian witches casting spells in favor of President Vladimir Putin.

… we have a small favor to ask.

As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just 2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.


Read more