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16 Nov, 2007 15:29

Cult goes underground to await apocalypse

Almost 30 Russians have decided to live in the underground bunker in Russia's Penza Region, because they believe the end of the world is nigh.

The cult members say the world will come to an end next May.

The authorities have tried to evict them from the bunker they're living in, but the group members say they'll burn themselves alive rather than allow that to happen. A ventilation pipe sticking out of the snow is the only sign they're there, it's also the only way for the believers to communicate with the outside world.

The bunker's residents are thought to be from different parts of Russia and the CIS. Reportedly, none of them were employed and their children weren't allowed to go to school. The founder of their religious society is being held by police and will soon undergo psychiatric tests.

“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's one of the followers,” notes local resident Boris Danilov.

The temperatures above the bunker at night reach -15 Celsius. That's why doctors are concerned about the children.

“No one has the right to decide the fate of a child. No one can put a child in danger or put in such harsh living conditions,” said Leonid Roshal, one of Russia’s most distinguished pediatricians.

Aleksandr Dvorkin, Professor at Religious and Cultic Studies Centre in Moscow says this group is exploitative.

“ The law, unfortunately, doesn't yet have the provisions, regarding this new type of cults, known as totalitarian. It is something yet to be done, because people are unprotected. They fall an easy prey to those mighty manipulators, who entice them into those cults and then simply exploit them,” clarified Dvorkin.