Doomsday sect members to remain holed up

Eleven members of a doomsday sect holed up in a muddy cave since November in expectation of the end of the world are unlikely to emerge Sunday, a regional official said according to news agency Interfax.

“It is as it was before. There have been no signals from the hermits of a possible exit today,” deputy governor of the Penza region Oleg Melnichenko was reported as saying.

Former cave inhabitant Vitaly Nedogon said the remaining sect members underground would emerge April 27, the Orthodox Easter Sunday, Melnichenko said.

But those still holed up have said nothing about coming out Sunday, said Melnichenko, who has been in talks with them.

Led by their bearded guru, Pyotr Kuznetsov, the initial group of 35 entered the cavern in November, saying they would wait for the world to end in May.

Most have gradually emerged, but 11 are believed to still be in the cave located near the village of Nikolskoye in Penza district, some 700 kilometres (435 miles) southeast of Moscow.

They have threatened to blow themselves up with gas canisters if police intervene.

Many of those who have left the cave continue to await the end of the world at Kuznetsov’s wooden cottage in the village.

The sect members adhere to an extremely simple lifestyle, believing among other things that bar codes on food products are a symbol of the devil.

Kuznetsov’s followers come from other parts of Russia and from Belarus, a neighbouring former Soviet republic.

Five Belarussian sect members, who emerged from the cave last month, have returned to Belarus, Interfax reported.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Monday April 28, 2008.
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