How a shaman, a vlogger, and a communist deputy helped trigger massive election protests in an eastern Siberian city

In Ulan-Ude, the capital of Buryatia, a spontaneous protest has devolved into mass demonstrations that have now been ongoing for several days. Residents of the eastern Siberian city are demanding a new mayoral election and the release of 15 protesters who were arrested during the very first demonstrations. Among those detainees is the local video blogger Dmitry Bairov: The protests began when he confronted the city’s acting mayor about an incident involving the self-labeled warrior shaman Alexander Gabyshev, who was traveling from Yakutia to Moscow in order to perform an exorcism on Russian President Vladimir Putin. Gabyshev had been riding through the city in another individual’s car when the driver was stopped by police and ultimately arrested for insubordination. After Bairov was confronted by police officers and called for help, a number of Ulan-Ude residents joined him on Soviet Square. They included Russian Communist Party officials, who have supported the city’s protesters in part because their candidate took second place in its recent mayoral election. On September 13, Buryatia’s branch of the party announced that it had received a permit for a new protest in Ulan-Ude. Meduza spoke about the situation with People’s Khural Deputy Bair Tsyrenov, who has taken part in the demonstrations since they first began.