Aleksandr Gabyshev was forcibly placed in a psychiatric clinic against his will after 20 officers from a special police unit of Russia’s National Guard stormed into his home in Yakutsk, the capital of the Siberian region of Yakutsk, on May 12 and detained him.
On the orders from Moscow, undoubtedly, rather than from Yakutsk.
He was briefly released on May 29, a day after his lawyer, Olga Timofeyeva, filed a complaint with the Yakutsk city court questioning the legality of his forced placement in the clinic.
But a court in Yakutsk subsequently ruled on June 2 that Gabyshev must be confined to a psychiatric clinic.
Two members of the generally servile State Duma have interfered on the shaman’s behalf. One is a native of Yakutsk: there seems to be much sympathy for Gabyshev among the locals. (The mayor of Yakutsk and the leader of the republic’s Communist party have also spoken out in his support.) The other is a psychiatrist and addiction therapist, who opposes the misuse of psychiatry against political dissidents.
Why is Moscow so afraid of a man with a tambourine? First, for all the rational reasons, as a charismatic, if unconventional, attractor of popular attention. Second, just in case: never estimate the power of superstition and low-grade occult thinking.