Footage has emerged of a bizarre shamanist ritual showing the slaughter and bonfire of five camels – all, apparently, in the name of the Russian motherland.
The video, shot in January in the Siberian town of Angarsk, shows the five camels being led, one by one, through a human corridor of several dozen drummers. Their slaughter is not shown on camera. Instead, the footage cuts to show their corpses being set alight.
Artur Tsybikov, the deputy supreme shaman of Russia who oversaw the ritual, said the “unprecedented” event marked a return to Russia’s historic shamanist roots. It was a patriotic act to its core, he added, aimed at “strengthening the Russian state and its people”.
The ancient practice of Shamanism – heavy on rituals and the supernatural – was repressed during Soviet times. In recent years it has seen somewhat of a renaissance, especially in its traditional Siberian heartlands.
But not all of Russian shamanism seems to be on the same page when it comes to camels. A rival shamanism group from nearby Buryatia condemned the “slaughter” of “sacred animals” as “barbaric”.
Mr Tsybikov told The Independent that his critics “failed to understand their past and their country”. Shamans had always sacrificed animals, he argued: goats, sheep, horses. But it was the camel that represented “the highest of all sacrifices” a shaman could make to God – and, incidentally, to the development of Russia.
Besides, he said, the head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, killed dozens of camels without receiving anything like the same level of negative publicity: “Kadyrov slaughtered a whole herd of them. And good on him for doing that.”
On Friday, local prosecutors confirmed they had opened an investigation into animal abuse.
Mr Tsybikov told The Independent the prospect of prosecution would not keep him from his “historic mission”. At the same time, he did not expect to be repeating the camel ritual any time soon. Russia’s karma boost was good to go “for the next 300 or 500 years”, he said.
“It’s enough for now but if people ask we’ll do it. If you want, we can even do one for Britain.”
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