On September 23, 2021 the Supreme Court of Sakha (Yakutia), will consider shaman Aleksandr Gabyshev’s appeal against the decision to confine him to psychiatric hospital. Meanwhile he is in pretrial detention and under investigation for alleged violence against a police officer. The shaman has been long targeted by the authorities after he vowed in 2019 to walk from Siberia to Moscow and use his shamanic powers “to purge” President Vladimir Putin. He has been repeatedly arbitrarily arrested, and subjected to humiliating searches and examinations, and confined in a psychiatric institution, all for criticizing the Russian authorities and his peaceful activism.
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Prosecutor of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia)
Maksim Nikolaevich Popov
prosp. Lenina, d. 48
677027 Yakutsk, Republic of Sakha (Yakutia)
Email: [email protected]
CC: [email protected] (Human Rights Commissioner for the Republic of Sakha, Yakutia)
Ambassador Anatoly Antonov
Embassy of the Russian Federation
2650 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington DC 20007
Phone: 202 298 5700 I Fax: 202 298 5735
Email: [email protected]
Salutation: Dear Ambassador
I am urging you to intervene and stop the harassment of Aleksandr Gabyshev
, 52 years-old resident of Yakutsk, including his intended confinement in a psychiatric institution under the decision by Yakutsk City Court taken on July 26, 2021. His appeal against it will be heard on September 23, 2021.
That is the second instance of Aleksandr Gabyshev facing punitive psychiatry, after he was arbitrarily placed in a psychiatric institution between May 12 and July 22, 2020 and release in response to a wide public outcry. If he loses his appeal on September 23, 2021 he risks being confined there indefinitely and subjected to forcible treatment.
According to international law and standards, deprivation of liberty on grounds of mental illness is unjustified if not strictly necessary to protect the safety of the person or of others. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to which Russia is a State party, forbids the deprivation of liberty based on the existence of any disability, including mental or intellectual. Furthermore, the Special Rapporteur on torture has said that medical treatment administered in the absence of free and informed consent may amount to torture or other ill-treatment.
Aleksandr Gabyshev is a shaman who engaged in peaceful activism in 2018, as a public critic of President Vladimir Putin. In the years that followed, he was subjected to repeated arbitrary arrests by police, humiliating examinations and unfounded psychiatric confinement. On January 27, 2021, his home was raided by dozens of police officers, when he was arrested and accused of using violence.
I call on you to take all necessary steps to ensure that Aleksandr Gabyshev is not subjected to punitive psychiatry, and that his harassment by police in retaliation for his peaceful activism stops. Any allegations against him must be effectively and impartially investigated, and his right to a fair trial must be fully respected.