Criminal proceedings opened against Penza sect leader

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MOSCOW, November 15 (Itar-Tass) – Prosecutors in the Penza region opened criminal proceedings against sect leader Pyotr Kuznetsov whose supporters had holed up in a gully and refuse to talk with authorities.

Kuznetsov is “under the supervision of investigators,” head of the regional investigations department under the Prosecutor General’s Office Oleg Troshin told Itar-Tass.

“He’s under our supervision; a criminal case has been opened against him under Article 239 of Russia’s Criminal Code (setting up a religious or public organization whose activity is associated with violence on citizens and instigation to refuse to perform their civil duties,” Troshin said.

Investigators “haven’t ascertained the motives of this move by the sect members who call themselves representatives of “the true Russian Orthodox Church.”

They refuse contact with the regional authorities or law-enforcers. On the slope of the gully where some 30 sect members, including four children, dug out a cave and barricaded themselves, a detail of police officers has been on round-the-clock watch.

Police said the sect is awaiting “doomsday.” They have a stock of food, and warned the authorities that in case police made an attempt to force their way inside, they would blow up their tunnels with the gas containers they had stored.

The temperature in caves does not exceed 12 degrees Celsius. The youngest child kept by the sect is just 18 months old.

Father Pyotr, 43, did not let his followers watch television, listen to the radio, or touch money, prosecutors said.

He is to undergo a psychiatric expert examination. The sect leader may be fined 200,000 roubles or sentenced to three years in jail.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog)
Itar-Tass, Russia
Nov. 15, 2007

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This post was last updated: Nov. 16, 2007