True Russian Orthodox Church Archive

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Witnesses forced to give evidence in Russian doomsday prophet case

Witnesses forced to give evidence in Russian doomsday prophet case

PENZA, July 22 (RIA Novosti) – Witnesses in the case of Russian doomsday sect leader Pyotr Kuznetsov, whose followers recently spent six months underground, have been forced to testify in court, a Penza Region judicial spokesman said on Tuesday.

July 15, 2008 RIA Novosti report

Some 39 witnesses were called by the court, eleven of whom had submitted applications for the case to be considered without their participation.

Although Kuznetsov has already been declared legally insane, the court will attempt to determine his mental state at the time his followers first went underground. Two members of the sect perished in the dugout, one from malnutrition brought about during fasting, and another from cancer.

If the court finds that Kuznetsov was criminally responsible at the time of the group’s retreat from society, the case will be turned over to state prosecutors. If not, charges of ‘creating a violent organization’ will be dropped, and the court will rule on what medical treatment Kuznetsov requires.

Kuznetsov attended the first court session, held in the psychiatric asylum where he has been kept since last year, but was subsequently judged too ill by doctors to take any further part in proceedings.

– Source: Witnesses forced to give evidence in Russian doomsday prophet case, RIA Novosti, Russia, July 22, 2008 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Doomsday cult leader stands trial

Doomsday cult leader stands trial

A local court in Russia’s Penza region is set to hear the case of the Doomsday cult leader, Pyotr Kuznetsov. He is accused of inciting religious hatred after he inspired 35 of his followers, including four children, to lock themselves in an underground bunker to wait for the Apocalypse last November.

Eighteen months before November 2007, the cult members had started to arrive in the small village of Nikolskoye in Russia’s Penza region.

During that time they had been building primitive tunnels and cells, capable of housing people underground for weeks on end.

They called themselves the True Russian Orthodox Church and claimed to be awaiting the end of the world.

To the media, they were known as the Doomsday cult.

When they entered the bunker, their leader Pyotr Kuznetsov did not follow them and it sparked certain accusations.

“He took their money. Many of them sold their flats. We saw a man who came here from Donetsk in Ukraine to take back his mother, who was one of the followers,” said Boris Danilov, a local resident.

Later Kuznetsov was taken to an asylum for psychiatric testing.

Back in the bunker the cult members threatened mass suicide if they were disturbed, making the situation even more delicate.

“It’s prohibited to go down into the ravine. Don’t even speak loudly. Don’t disturb these people please – it could provoke a tragedy,” said one of the policemen who cordoned off the area.

As winter melted into spring, there came a breakthrough.

Floodwaters undermined the cave’s structure causing parts of it to collapse and slowly cult members began to appear.

Two graves were found of women who had died while awaiting the supposed Apocalypse.

A short time later Russian authorities demolished the bunker.

And now the Russian justice system begins a criminal court hearing against cult leader Pyotr Kuznetsov. The trial will take place in the psychiatric hospital where he is being treated.

– Source: Doomsday cult leader stands trial, Russia Today, Russia, July 15, 2008 — Summarized by Religion News Blog