In November last year he inspired 35 people to hole themselves up in a bunker in Russia’s Penza region awaiting the Apocalypse. Nine cultists still remain underground and two are believed to have died.
Despite suffering a severe brain trauma and a previous diagnosis of mental illness, Pyotr Kuznetsov’s doctors believe he may yet recover sufficiently to stand trial if police bring charges against him.
“We hopefully will be able to make the patient able to testify. But for now I cannot comment on what mental abnormalities he will have,” Andrey Progressov, the head of intensive care unit of Penza regional hospital says.
Reports of two dead bodies underground have added a new dimension to any potential legal proceedings and led the investigators to interview all cult members now returned to the village of Nikolskoye.
Chief investigator Rustam Ataev says they have some progress.
“We’ve questioned all those cult members who left the bunker and are now analyzing the case. But we can’t take decisions until all cult members leave the shelter,” he said.
Up until now the authorities had categorically ruled out the use of force to end the occupation. Now they say if more lives are endangered, they will consider storming the bunker despite threat by those inside to blow it up if any such attempt is made.
“At the moment we have no reasons to storm the bunker. But if extreme weather conditions or anything else put anybody’s lives in danger, we will have to act to save the lives of those inside,” Oleg Melnichenko, the Vice Governor of the region says.
The man accused of bringing his followers into this precarious situation has been labeled a schizophrenic and now lies on the heavy sedation after sustaining horrific injuries. Should he recover it may only be to be held responsible for whatever fate befalls his disciples underground.
Apr. 12, 2008