Deep in the heart of Siberia’s birch forests lies one of the largest and most remote religious communes of the planet. More than 5,000 people have left their families and their homes to move here and join the Church of the Last Testament, which has more than 10,000 followers worldwide. The church centers on one man. He is known simply as Vissarion, meaning “he who gives new life,” or simply as the teacher, and he claims that he is Jesus Christ.
Vissarion, a self-proclaimed Messiah has been operating in Siberia’s Krasnoyarsk Region. He is the founding father of the Vissarion Brotherhood and the Church of the Last Testament. Calling himself “The Teacher,” he predicts a new Great Flood, and promises salvation and spiritual perfection to his followers. His followers choose to abandon their homes and build settlements near the sacred Mountain, where “The Teacher” lives. In this RT documentary, one woman, a former member of the sect, shares her experience and explains how her new faith has torn her family apart.
Six miles from the nearest road, in the vast Siberian wilderness, a bearded man in flowing white linen robes sat at his kitchen table and talked about his crucifixion at the hands of Pontius Pilate 2,000 years ago.
Text of report by Radio Russia on 10 July A petition has begun in the Krasnoyarsk Territory for the disbandment of the Vissarion sect, located in the so called Town of the Sun, in Kuraginskiy District in the south of Krasnoyarsk Territory. Yuriy Borisov reports. Those who have managed to escape the town of death, as the place where the Vissarion sect has been in operation for many years is known, end up in the intensive care units of Krasnoyarsk hospitals. Several of the runaways have been diagnosed with schizophrenia by doctors. The people of the region say
The man they call Jesus of Siberia came to Britain looking for disciples to follow him up a mountainside. Candida Crewe was intrigued. A 41-year-old man dressed in a coarse, red velvet robe with scratchy gold braid takes his seat on a fine purple banquette in the Groucho Club. He wears thick socks under his sandals and carefully combs his long flowing hair before sitting down. He smiles beatifically and speaks very slowly and quietly, in Russian. Even by the Groucho’s standards, he looks unusual. Asked how he would like to be addressed, he insists, calmly, that he doesn’t mind.
Daily Telegraph (England), Aug. 18, 2002 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/ By Ben Aris in Moscow Thousands of pilgrims have converged on the hamlet of Petropavlovka, deep in the Siberian tundra, to hear today’s annual sermon by a 41-year-old former traffic policeman who they believe to be Jesus. Sergei Torop, known to his followers as Vissarion, has descended on horseback for the occasion from the mountain log cabin that he shares with his wife and six children, 4,000ft above Petropavlovka in the republic of Khakassia, near the Siberian-Mongolian border. Dressed in flowing red velvet robes and sporting long dark hair, Vissarion has appeared before
Sergei Torop, a 38-year-old former traffic warden from Siberia, sighed and smiled when asked to confirm his divinity. When you know you are Jesus, being asked for proof gets tiresome.