Doomsday cult leader to negotiate kids` release

The leader of a doomsday cult says he's ready to negotiate with his followers for the release of four children. They remain barricaded along with 25 adults in a cave in central Russia.

The followers are threatening to blow themselves up if authorities try to force them out of their underground bunker.

Talks are continuing to persuade them to leave.

Kuznetsov faces prosecution.  He has been charged with organising a religious association that violates human rights.

If found guilty, he could be sentenced to three years in prison.

Kuznetsov is now undergoing psychiatric tests to see if he is fit to stand trial.

His 29 followers – including four children – remain in the underground bunker and are threatening to blow themselves up if authorities try to force them out.

Talks are continuing to persuade them to leave.

Kuznetsov says they're waiting for the end of the world and have enough supplies to last until May.

“The time of the Apocalypse is coming to an end,” Kuznetsov said.

The cult leader gave dire warnings for early next year, including predictions of cannibalism.

“According to our estimates, in Spring 2008 the devil will be thrown into the fire. That's according to the Bible. After that there will be no more temptations. But the first five months of 2008 will be the peak period when the temptations will be the hardest. People will suffer from hunger, they will eat each other. The bunker is designed to save us from chaos.”

Psychiatrist Vasily Sapegin, who's Deputy Chief at the regional hospital where Kuznetsov is being treated, says the cult leader is a danger to himself and others.

“His ideas are destructive both for himself and others. He is exhausting himself, and his followers are barricaded in the cave. This is a disease,” Sapegin said.

The psychiatrist said they'd managed to talk Kuznetsov into urging those in the cave to let the children out.

“But first he said it was a blessing for kids to come to God at such a young age. But we need to make sure he will not urge them to stay until the end. We will work on that in the coming hours,” he added.