Russian Court Cancels Ruling Extending Forced Psychiatric Care For Anti-Putin Shaman


VLADIVOSTOK, Russia -- A court in Russia's Far East has canceled a lower court decision to prolong the forced treatment in a psychiatric clinic for a Yakut shaman who became known across the country for his attempts to march to Moscow to drive Russian President Vladimir Putin out of the Kremlin.

Shaman Aleksandr Gabyshev's lawyer, Aleksei Pryanishnikov, told RFE/RL on September 8 that the Primorye Krai regional court ruled in favor of Gabyshev's appeal against the extension of his forced treatment and sent the case back to the Ussuriisk district court for a new hearing, citing inconsistencies in medical conclusions regarding the case.

In early August, the Ussuriisk district court ruled that Gabyshev must continue being treated at a psychiatric clinic even though a month earlier a team of psychiatrists concluded that Gabyshev could be transferred from a psychiatric clinic to a regular hospital because his "condition had improved."

However, several days later, a new medical commission concluded that the shaman's psychiatric health condition "had worsened" and that he must be transferred back to a psychiatric clinic.

Pryanishnikov accused officials at the time of hastily gathering together the new commission to change the decision.

It remains unclear why a new commission had been put together.

Gabyshev, who has been stopped several times by the Russian authorities since 2019 when he tried to march from his native Siberian region of Yakutia to Moscow with the stated goal of driving Putin out of office, was sent to a psychiatric clinic against his will in July after a court found him "mentally unfit" during a hearing where he had been accused of committing a "violent act against a police officer" when he was being forcibly removed from his home to be taken to a psychiatric clinic in late-January.

The ruling was challenged by Gabyshev's lawyers and supporters who say his detention is an attempt to silence dissent.

The Memorial Human Rights Center in Russia has recognized Gabyshev as a political prisoner and Amnesty International has launched a campaign calling for his release.