Santa Claus is coming to town.
But instead of a jolly, gift-giving old man, he’s a Siberian activist and an ally of an anti-Putin shaman seeking to spread the shaman’s message.
Nicknamed Ded Moroz (or Father Frost), Viktor Yegorov wants to reach Moscow on Dec. 31 to deliver a New Year’s message.
“[I’d like to] congratulate all Russians with the fact that nothing’s changed in the country,” Yegorov, clad in a light-blue Santa suit, told the Znak.com news website Wednesday.
His political stance mirrors that of Alexander Gabyshev, the shaman who tried to trek across Russia this year to “exorcise” the Russian president and cast him out from the Kremlin.
Authorities detained Gabyshev and sent him back to his hometown in September. His allies, including Yegorov, vowed to press on in his stead but were reportedly pressured by the authorities to disband.
Yegorov has since been staging one-person pickets across central Russia under the authorities’ watchful eye, planning to land in Moscow on New Year’s Eve.
In Yekaterinburg, he told Znak.com that authorities interrogated him at the train station immediately after his arrival.
“They wanted to know where we were coming from, how long we were going to stay, what we were going to do and when and where we were going next,” Yegorov was quoted as saying.
“They asked me to show them my poster [it reads ‘All the Power to the People’] and also asked me to notify them if it went down without incidents,” he added.
From Yekaterinburg, Yegorov said he plans to head west to Perm, Kirov and the anti-landfill protest hotbed of Shiyes in northwestern Russia before reaching his final destination.
“It’s my private initiative,” he told the news website.