A Siberian shaman has called on supporters from around the world to join his third attempt to cast President Vladimir Putin out of power this spring.
Alexander Gabyshev was detained twice last year while hiking toward Moscow to expel Putin from the Kremlin. Activists say authorities suspect Gabyshev of inciting extremism, a criminal charge that carries a prison sentence of up to four years.
“Welcome to my squad, every volunteer from Russia and the world,” Gabyshev said in a video address published Sunday announcing his third cross-country trek.
He noted that preparations were underway to restart the Moscow-bound journey in March. When he embarked on his first trip from his native republic of Sakha in March 2019, Gabyshev estimated he would reach the Russian capital by 2021.
“We’ll leave as a squad, regardless of the court decisions,” the self-described shaman said. “I only obey the law of God. He said March and so March it will be… Nothing will hold us back.”
Gabyshev maintained that his march “to exorcise the demon” will be peaceful.
“I’m not calling on anyone to take up arms or for violence,” he said. “As for me, I’m a warrior. I’ve chosen the path of a warrior.”
He has previously described plans to cast out Putin by lighting a bonfire near the Kremlin wall on Red Square and performing a prayer. Gabyshev last year told The New York Times that “Putin will come to his senses and quietly resign” after the ritual is done.
Various parts of Russia practice shamanism, a belief that its practitioners can communicate with and harness the energy of the spirit world.
Authorities banned Gabyshev from leaving his hometown of Yakutsk. That restriction was reported to have been lifted on Dec. 23.