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31 Jul, 2008 01:18

New cult uncovered in Penza

A new cult has emerged in Russia’s central Penza region, two months after a doomsday sect gave up its underground wait for the apocalypse. A group of around 20 people has barricaded themselves in a house on the outskirts of Penza.

It is reported they are women aged between 45 and 50, and there are also two men there who rule the community. One of them is allegedly a former policeman and another is a specialist in computers.

Also, there is information that the leader of the group, 52-year-old Aleksandr Zhukov, is known as Father Rafail by members.

Locals say there was a man living in the place who founded the sect and is known as religious hermit Aleksiy. He died four years ago and is buried in the Orthodox parish close to the house where the group lives.
The unusual thing about the group is that they refuse to go to the church and pray there, but instead visit the grave of the hermit and perform some rites there.

They also refuse to have passports because they believe they contain the number of the beast. The consumption of products packed in containers bearing bar codes is also banned, as it’s supposedly a satanic sign.

Officials do not see anything wrong in their actions. They say the group don’t behave aggressively and don’t impose their beliefs upon people around.

The only law they’ve broken so far is that they continue to build up on the territory which wasn’t granted to them by the officials.

There is no proof or information that the group is somehow linked to the Doomsday cult whose leader Pyotr Kuznetsov is now undergoing treatment in a psychiatric hospital. He is also standing trial for 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.

A local TV station has reported that Kuznetsov allegedly once visited the group, although the group denies it.