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Siberian shaman with plan to 'banish Putin' found insane: lawyers

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Moscow (AFP)

A Siberian shaman who set off to walk across Russia to drive out President Vladimir Putin, whom he called a demon, has been found mentally unfit to stand trial, defence lawyers said Thursday.

"Experts found that the shaman Alexander Gabyshev is not of sound mind," a human rights group representing him said on Telegram, a messaging app, citing the FSB security force.

The human rights advocacy group, Pravozashchita Otkrytki, took issue with the expert assessment conducted after Gabyshev was detained last month, suggesting it was not possible to reliably assess his mental capacity in a short period of time.

The self-styled shaman had walked about a third of the way from his native far northern region of Yakutia to Moscow, when police seized him on the shore of Siberia's Lake Baikal on September 19.

Gabyshev has been accused of making public calls to carry out extremist activities, his lawyers said.

He was sent to a psychiatric ward for an evaluation on September 20.

"Accompanied by members of the FSB, Gabyshev was taken to a psychiatric ward," the group said, adding he underwent tests of his mental health against his will.

Gabyshev's lawyers said independent experts would carry out a fresh evaluation soon.

Gabyshev began his trek in March, dragging a cart with his belongings. He planned to reach Moscow by 2021.

Gabyshev's eccentric bid to walk from his home city of Yakutsk to Moscow, a distance of over 8,000 kilometres (5,000 miles), saw a group of followers join him on the way.

His simply expressed statements about Putin captured public attention, prompting opposition protests as well as muck-raking reports on pro-Kremlin television.

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