Authorities in the Penza region are investigating claims that Doomsday cult members may have been murdered in their underground bunker.
Rumours started after most of the sect’s followers left the hideout earlier this month, with one of them allegedly giving a controversial interview to the press.
It’s now believed there are still nine people holed up below ground, in partially collapsed tunnels.
But a tabloid website has cast doubt over this version. It has footage of sect member Vitaly Nedogon telling reporters he thought one of his fellow believers still underground might have murdered those that remained with him.
However, local authorities, along with Russia Today and the rest of the media circus, have made their own checks at the site. They say voices can be heard through the ventilation shaft, including chanting from the bunker below.
Officials say that the murder rumours could be a sign that deep divisions have split the sect during its time underground.
Penza Region’s Vice Governor Oleg Melnichenko says it may never have been a unified group.
“I believe there was no unity from the very beginning. That’s proven by the fact that they came out in separate groups. They are not communicating with each other at the moment,” Melnichenko said.
Meanwhile, five Belarusian citizens who were among those who left the bunker are to be deported from Russia. A regional court ruled they had breached the laws of travelling into the country, as well as regulations on staying in the country.
Some also face fines of up to $US 200 each.