A month has passed since a group of doomsday cult members cut themselves off from the outside world in southern Russia. Authorities have scaled down efforts to coax them out. With officials refusing to discuss future tactics, relatives now want their say.
Vasily Vaskov’s 50-year-old daughter Irina has gone underground, saying good-bye to a world she described as full of corruption. She is one of the 29 religious cult members who’ve barricaded themselves inside a bunker beneath a snow-covered hillside in Russia’s Penza region. They’re waitinf for doomsday, which they say will come next spring.
The group has been threatening to blow themselves up if authorities try to force them out.
Vasily is baffled by his daughter’s motives and says all he wants is to hear her voice so that he knows she’s still alive.
”I’m not expecting her to come out and to come home. I’ve been warned that it would be impossible to convince her. I just want to talk to her,” said Vasily Vaskov.
Irina fled her hometown of Novorossiysk in August last year. She kept in touch with her father but it was not until this October that she revealed she’d settled in the village of Nikolskoye, where the doomsday cult’s headquarters are located.
Vasily says his daughter has suffered a series of personal crises: three unsuccessful marriages and the murder of her eldest daughter. She became disillusioned with traditional religion and sought spiritual answers elsewhere.
Since he arrived in the Penza region, Vasily has been asking local police to take him to the bunker. He wants the chance to speak to Irina through the ventilation shaft. Authorities say they’re considering his request, but it may take time.