As many as 50 armed police officers arrested a self-proclaimed warrior shaman who was walking 8,000 miles from Siberia to “expel Vladimir Putin” from the Kremlin.
The officers swooped as part of a dawn raid on Aleksandr Gabyshev and his entourage, according to the 50-year-old’s Instagram account.
“They all laid us on the ground, handcuffed us. They wrapped the shaman in a tent and drove away," one of his supporters wrote.
Gabyshev, who is 3,000 kilometres into an 8,000-kilometre hike from his home in Siberia to Moscow, was arrested in Buryatia, Siberia, near the village of Vydrino.
One of Gabyshev’s supporters, who has been walking with him, said that the shaman could face criminal proceedings for organising an extremist movement.
Gabyshev has built up a sizable following since he began his journey six months ago, and his posts and videos on social media have been viewed millions of times.
Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs told Euronews that police detained a man born in 1958 who is suspected for a crime in Yakutia of the M-53 Baikal federal highway, but did not provide his name.
Gabyshev does not appear in an official database of people wanted by the police.
The Kremlin said they did not know anything about the detention of the shaman.
Gabyshev began his journey to Moscow in March this year and hoped to reach the capital by 2021. He has said he considers Putin a product of dark forces which only a shaman can handle.
At the end of August, members of the Buryat religious organization Tengari blocked Gabyshev’s way, arguing that they would not allow the shaman to continue his journey because "they do not want bloody wars." Later, two of his supporters were detained in Ulan-Ude.
Amnesty International has branded Gabyshev a “prisoner of conscience”.
“The shaman’s actions may be eccentric, but the Russian authorities’ response is grotesque. Are they truly afraid of his magical powers?
“Aleksandr Gabyshev should be free to express his political views and exercise his religion just like anyone else,” said Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International’s Russia Director.