17 Jan 2020 17:42

Sword seized from Yakut shaman returned

YAKUTSK. Jan 17 (Interfax) - Investigators in Yakutia have not opened a criminal case against shaman Alexander Gabyshev, who brandished a sword in the direction of police officers and tore an officer's uniform coat during an attempt to issue him a summons, human rights organization Pravozashchita Otkrytki said.

In December 2019, Gabyshev was questioned in connection with the incident in a pre-investigation inspection under the article of the Russian Criminal Code dealing with subjecting an authority to violence.

"Gabyshev was not found to have any intention of using violence against authorities," Pravozashchita Otkrytki said, citing investigators' conclusions.

Pravozashchita Otkrytki also said that the sword, which was seized as physical evidence, has been returned to the shaman.

Gabyshev has still not been charged with making calls for extremist activities, and travel restrictions have been lifted from him, Pravozashchita Otkrytki said.

Interfax has not officially confirmed this information.

A video address in which the shaman announces his plans to go on a third journey to Moscow was posted on his YouTube channel on January 12.

"We are now beginning preparations for the journey. The journey is planned for March; our unit will start here, regardless of decisions by authorities and the court. The unit will walk peacefully in order to drive away the 'demon' by peaceful methods. I am not calling on anyone to use weapons, everything should be decided peacefully," Gabyshev said.

Gabyshev began his 8,000-kilometer journey to Moscow in March in order to "drive Putin away" and "restore the people's power." The trek was supposed to last for two years. He covered a distance of roughly 3,000 kilometers and drew a number of followers before he was detained.

Masked and armed police detained Gabyshev on Baikal Highway in Buryatia in the early morning hours of September 19.

A criminal case was opened against him on counts of public calls for extremism.

According to case documents seen by Interfax, investigators believe that between March 6 and May 22, "Gabyshev personally exhorted a group of people in an unidentified location to carry out extremist activities."

On October 3, Pravozashchita Otkrytki said that Gabyshev was found insane following a psychiatric evaluation.

It emerged on December 8, that Gabyshev had resumed walking to Moscow because no charges were brought against him in the ten days after measures of restraint were imposed on him. Therefore, his restrictions on leaving Yakutsk were, according to his lawyers, "automatically" lifted.

Gabyshev and two of his supporters were detained on December 10.

According to the protocol, Gabyshev "behaved arrogantly, took out a sword, brandished it in the direction of police officers and tore an officer's uniform coat during an attempt to issue him a summons."