Siberian Shamans Demand Apology From Russian Minister

Moscow, Russia - Russian shamans have demanded apologies from Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov who recently called shamans “scoundrels” in a public speech. The shamans threatened the authorities with unrest similar to that which emerged after the Danish publication of notorious Mohammad cartoons.

The Russian daily Kommersant quoted a member of the shaman society Dungun, based in the South Siberian republic of Tyva, as saying that their religion was very ancient and deserved respect. “we must not be mentioned in the same breath as loose women,” shaman Boris said.

In his speech devoted to the state of the Russian press Ivanov complained of the situation when “normal” material is published alongside the advertising of “brothels, shamans and other scoundrels.”

The Tyva shaman went on to say that the Defense Minister must publicly apologize for his words, as the Danish authorities did after the so-called Mohammad cartoons scandal. If no apologies were made, Russian shamans might “follow the Danish example,” he said, probably meaning the unrest that took place in Iran and other Muslim countries.

Lyudmila Narusova, Tyva’s representative in the upper house of the Russian parliament sided with the shamans and said that she would press for Ivanov to apologize.

Shamanism is traditionally widespread among the indigenous people of Northern Russia and Siberia, in such republics as Buryatia, Sakha-Yakutia, the Altai Region, the Evenk Region, Khakassia and Tyva. Shamanism suffered a setback in the 30s when Communists exiled many shamans from their native villages and has only started to make a comeback with the collapse of the Soviet Union.