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.