New doomsday sect in Penza ‘calmly awaiting end of world’
PENZA, July 29 (RIA Novosti) – Two months after a doomsday sect gave up its underground wait for the apocalypse in central Russia, a new cult has been discovered in the same region, a local official told RIA Novosti on Tuesday.
The Penza Region sect has existed since the 1990s, when Russia was submerged by a tidal wave of New Age groups and self-proclaimed messiahs.
“They are not doing anything dangerous – they are calmly waiting for the end of the world,” said Aleksandr Yelantontsev, who is responsible for religious issues in the provincial administration.
The group, said to consist of a core of about 15 women aged 45-50, is headed by 52-year-old Alexander Zhukov, who calls himself Raphael. According to a number of occultists, the archangel Raphael is one of the seven angels of the apocalypse. Among Catholics, Raphael is the patron saint of mental illness.
Yelantontsev said that more of the group’s followers, “from the surrounding regions,” often come to visit ‘Raphael’ in the sect’s fenced-off residence on the outskirts of Penza.
Last November, 35 members of another Penza Region sect went underground to wait for the apocalypse, which they initially claimed would come in May. Their leader, Pyotr Kuznetsov, is reported to have said they would be given the power to decide who would be sent to hell and who would go to heaven. The sect pledged to commit mass suicide if any attempt was made to force them to come to the surface.
Two members of the sect perished in the dugout, one from malnutrition brought about during fasting, and another from cancer. Although Kuznetsov has already been declared legally insane, a court is currently attempting to determine his mental state at the time his followers first went underground. He himself remained above ground.
July 30, 2008 News Summary