Thursday, July 17, 2008

Cult Leader Faces Hospital Trial

Cult leader Pyotr Kuznetsov
8:54pm UK, Tuesday July 15, 2008
Alex Rossi, Sky Moscow correspondent
The leader of
Russia's infamous doomsday cult is set to go on trial behind the closed doors of a psychiatric hospital after trying to commit suicide by hitting himself about the head with a piece of wood.
Pyotr Kuznetsov stands accused of inciting religious hatred and of brainwashing 35 of his followers - including four children - to barricade themselves underground in a network of tunnels for five months.

The cult refused to come out, because they claimed the end of the world was nigh.
It was Kuznetsov who told the disciples to expect an apocalypse in May.

Although he did not join his followers, they were happy to lock themselves underground.

Police arrested Kuznetsov and he was taken to a psychiatric hospital, where doctors claim he is suffering from a mental illness.

Despite demands from the police his followers resisted all efforts to coax them out of the bunker.

They vowed to commit mass suicide by blowing up gas cylinders if they were forced, or if the police attempted to breach their stronghold.

Nature though, eventually drove them out. When winter turned to spring and the snow melted, floodwater entered the tunnels.

The group slowly came back to the real world in body, if not mind.

Kuznetzov's followers are standing by him and are now living in his wooden cottage in Nikolskoye, some 400 miles southeast of Moscow - and they are still waiting for the end of the world.

The sect calls itself the True Orthodox Church and its members believe barcodes are the work of the devil and they reject all processed foods.

Cults in Russia have flourished since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The void left by Communist ideology was quickly filled by self proclaimed prophets.

Sociologists say the trauma of the USSR's demise led many Russians to question the established order for the first time and search for meaning in life.

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