Fourteen members of Russian doomsday sect emerge from cave (video)

Other News Materials 1 April 2008 14:08 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Fourteen members of a Russian doomsday sect, including two children, who were holed up in a cave for five months have left their underground lair, Interfax news agency reported Tuesday.

Seven women interred with the cult emerged Friday from the cave in a Penza region farm village, about 400 miles southeast of Moscow.

The region's deputy governor Oleg Melnichenko said members who had come out on Tuesday were in good health and being sent to their homes, some as far as Belarus.

But another 14 people, including two children, were still in the cave, which is in danger of collapsing with the spring thaw.

The extreme Russian Orthodox sect had stocked the cave with all they needed to survive until the end of the world which they saw coming in May.

Russian security forces have been watching the cave around the clock and keeping journalists and priests at bay since the sect was discovered two months after they went into hiding in November.

Sect members have threatened to blow themselves up with gas balloons and kerosene, if authorities try to remove them forcefully.

The sect are followers of Pyotr Kuznetsov, 44, who claimed his cult is the "true" Russian Orthodox Church and forbid members to work, attend school or pay taxes, whose identification codes he called the numbers of the devil.

Kuznetsov, who did not join his brethren underground, was placed in a psychiatric ward and faces charges of setting up an illegal sect.