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Vice Prime-Minister of Russia Equalled Shamans to Prostitutes

Back to the old conflict with new details. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov's comment last month that good newspaper stories are frequently spoiled by advertisements alongside them for "bordellos, shamans and other sleazy operators" has outraged shamans and the leaders of non-Russian areas in the Russian Federation where shamanism is widely practiced. Lyudmila Narusova, who represents Tuva in the Council of the Federation, has demanded that Ivanov formally apologize to the shamans or face the possibility that Russia's shamans will react in much the same way that Muslims around the world did to the appearance of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, "Kommersant" reported on March 21.

This perhaps unexpected scandal arose following Ivanov's March 10 comments about the ways in which he said the media are contributing to the "infantilization" of the Russian people. Because Ivanov is also vice prime minister, his remarks attracted widespread attention in Moscow, but they provoked real anger among shamans and their followers.

The newspaper "Novaya gazeta" featured comments from Mongush Kenin-Lopsan, the supreme shaman of Tuva, who expressed his outrage over Ivanov's remarks and his concern that they might portend a new attack on shamans like the one that Soviet officials carried out in the 1930s.

Kenin-Lopsan, who has a doctorate in history, is a widely published ethnographer and historian, and has been decorated by Russian Presidents Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin. He told the newspaper that he was appalled by Ivanov's remarks. "Shamans throughout the history of humanity," he said, "always were representatives of the most humane religious trends."

Describing shamanism as "the first religion of the peoples of the world," Kenin-Lopsan said that it had played an important role as "a source of the spiritual culture of every ethnic group" and was widely recognized and respected for that by leaders of other faiths, if not by all political and military leaders.

Under Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, Tuva's 725 shamans, who included 411 men and 314 women, "were all victims of repression." But even at that time, Kenin-Lopsan said, shamans were not subject to the kind of insult that Ivanov had delivered.

Since the fall of communism, he added, shamanism has made a comeback throughout central Eurasia, "including in my native Tuva.

"But in the words of Vice Prime Minister Ivanov, we hear a new threat to shamanism, a reminder of the most tragic period in the history of Tuva."

"Don't destroy the source of the spiritual culture of the Tuvan people!" the chief shaman of Tuva said. "Don't inflict persecution on shamans! Don't forget that in Russia live many indigenous peoples of Siberia, who profess shamanism, for whom shamanism is the holy of holies."

Narusova extended those remarks. She noted that today shamanism is widespread "in Buryatia and Yakutia, in the Altai and in Evenkia , Khakasia and Tuva," that in Tuva alone, there are six shamanistic religious organizations registered with the authorities and more than 300 shamans practice their faith completely legally.

For many of these peoples, she said, shamanism is a religion with roots stretching back 10,000 to 50,000 years ago. And consequently, listing shamans with "bordellos and other sleazy operators" is an insult not only to the shamans themselves but to all these people as well.

Narusova said that she would demand that Ivanov boogie. "Everyone remembers the mass disorders in Denmark that took place when the media published the caraciture of the Prophet Mohammed. Then Muslims were given public apologies." Thus, "if an apology is not forthcoming [in this case], Russia's shamans may repeat that experience."

But perhaps the most damning comment about Ivanov's unfortunate choice of words came not from the shamans but from Tat'yana Likhanova, the journalist who wrote the story in "Novaya gazeta" earlier this week.

She noted that "at least it has become clear why Defense Minister and Vice Prime Minister Ivanov always turns out to be ignorant of crimes taking place in the army. He simply does not have the time to do so because he is devoting himself to films, shows, and the vulgar press."

Paul Goble, United Press International
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Event announces

1) THESE DAYS: Republican Festival of Tuvan traditional applied art 'Silver art' (Kyzyl-Dag village, Bai-Taiga district, Tuva, Russia)

2) 28.06.2019 - 30.06.2019: Festival of Traditional Russian arts 'Verkhovie' (Upper Yenissei), including that of old believers (Sizim village, Kaa-Khem district, Tuva, Russia)

3) 04.07.2019 - 07.07.2019: XXth Ustuu-Huree festival of live music and belief (Chadan city, Dzun-Khemchik district, Tuva, Russia)

4) 13.07.2019 - 14.07.2019: Tuvan Cattle-breeders Festival 'Naadym': horse-races, yurt-city, wrestling, archery, cattle-exhibition, concerts, (Tuva, Russia)

5) 15.08.2019: Tuvan Republic Day (Tuva)

6) 16.08.2019 - 18.08.2019: 3d International Festival 'Khoomei in the center of Asia' (Kyzyl, Tuva, Russia)

7) 01.09.2019: Day of historic Memory and Dignity of Tuvan volunteers who perished in the 2nd World war (Tuva, Russia)

8) 07.09.2019: The Day of Kyzyl city (Kyzyl, Tuva, Russia)

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