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.

The Russian Orthodox priests have also failed to make any breakthrough after more than five hours of talks. However, the priests remain hopeful the group can be persuaded to disavow their beliefs.

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.

Starting Monday, the site surrounding the sect's underground bunker will be off limits to journalists. Updates will be given by the group leading negotiations.

Leader speaks

The cult leader Pyotr Kuznetsov has been allowed to talk to the media from the secure psychiatric hospital in the Penza region where he's being held.

“We were divinely instructed to move into two caves. The local people created too many problems, they constantly drank and fought each other. So we decided to leave,” said Kuznetsov.

However, the clergymen are hopeful they will be able to persuade the fanatics to abandon their radical beliefs.

Starting Monday, the site surrounding the sect's underground bunker will be off limits to the media. Updates will only be given by the working group created to resolve the situation.

Followers from all around Russia

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.

“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.