Many hope he finds a different way to express his feelings about the Russian president, though.

There are certain things you expect to see at a Shinto shrine in Japan. A torii gate, a collection box, a bell to ring before you offer a prayer. What you usually don’t expect, though, are wara ningyo, or Japanese voodoo dolls.

But wara ningyo are exactly what kept turning up at Shinto shrines in the town of Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture, about 20 minutes east of the Tokyo city center. The effigies were found nailed to trees with a spike, in accordance with traditional Japanese death curse protocol, and all of them also had pictures of the intended target of the malicious magic, Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Two weeks ago, investigators arrested Mitsunobu Hino, a 72-year-old resident of Matsudo, on charges of property damage after Hino was seen on security camera footage carrying a wara ningyo at a shrine shortly before one of the dolls was found nailed to the ground’s sacred tree. Hino didn’t exactly deny the charges when investigators came to his home to place him under arrest, but it turns out he won’t be facing any legal repercussions, at least for the time being, as the charges against him have been dropped.

Hino was released from police custody shortly after his arrest, and on Monday investigators said that prosecution will not be going ahead against Hino. This isn’t because he’s no longer suspected of nailing the doll to the tree, but because the shrine where he was seen on video, Mikazuki Shrine, has decided not to pursue the matter any further. “The victim has withdrawn the complaint,” explained a spokesperson for the Chiba Public Prosecutor’s Office’s Matsudo division.

Online reactions to the development have been a mixture of understanding and admonition, with Twitter comments such as:

“I can understand his sentiment, but he should find a better way to express it.”
“I’m sort of rooting for him, but he shouldn’t nail things into the shrine’s tree.”
“When they said ‘The victim has withdrawn the complaint’ I almost thought they meant Putin.”
“So Putin is cursed.”
“It looks like the wara ningyo aren’t being very effective against Putin. My coworker thinks it’s time to change tactics and throw holy water at him instead.”

Hino is also suspected of close toa dozen other wara ningyo vandalism cases in the city, however, so there remains a chance that one of the other shrines could still file a complaint against him if evidence hat he was involved surfaces.

Sources: NHK News Web via Jin, FNN Prime Online, Twitter
Top image: Pakutaso
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