World Putin’s FSB Arrests Cult Leader Who Says the Apocalypse Has Arrived in 2020

22:36  22 september  2020
22:36  22 september  2020 Source:   thedailybeast.com

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The leader of a prominent religious sect has been arrested in a remote part of Siberia by the Russian security forces, police say . One local resident wrote on Facebook that four helicopters and dozens of masked men had arrived in the area before they began to search nearby homes and buildings.

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MOSCOW—My phone started to ring, it was Elena Plotnikova FaceTiming from a village known as the Adobe of Dawn, which is at the center of a sprawling commune in Siberia. She was trying to stay calm but the smile on her face was cracking. Military vehicles and FSB gunmen had arrived at about 6:40 am on Tuesday morning and arrested their leader.

The Vissarion, or teacher, as his followers call Sergei Torop, as well as his best friends, Vadim Redkin and Vladimir Vedernikov, were rounded up by agents of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) who had brought cages into the commune to hold “psychologically unstable people” in case there was any trouble, Plotnikova said.

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Cult leader Sergei Torop claims he was reborn in 1990 as a reincarnated Jesus. The Russian Investigative Committee said the sect was being probed for using 'psychological violence' The group - who are banned from smoking and alcohol - has been in Siberia for years and it is unclear why the

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Torop has been running the commune in rural Russia for a quarter of a century, and has around 5,000 followers living in a network of villages in the Krasnoyarsk region. There are schools, performance centers, galleries and workshops, and seven churches with a star of Bethlehem instead of a cross at their apex. On a recent afternoon the followers’ orchestra rehearsed Verdi, Vivaldi and Handel, accompanied by ex-soloists from Moscow theaters.

The Christ of Siberia, a retired traffic cop from the provincial town of Minusinsk, is worshipped as a god by his followers. One Sunday this month, The Daily Beast was present as he told them: “You always asked me when and how Apocalypses was going to happen; it is already happening this year.”

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Prior to this announcement, the settlement had lived peacefully for 25 years, after it was filled by disillusioned Russians during the economic crises of early 1990s. The Vissarion’s followers don’t drink alcohol, don’t smoke, don’t curse, nor do they lock their doors at night since there is no crime in the commune.

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The cult is officially registered as a religious group called the Church of Last Testament, their holy place, the home of their “teacher” is the Adobe of Dusk, a picturesque village with skillfully carved houses that evoke the Shire in The Hobbit. The population of about 300 people treat the whole village as a church. Earlier this month, men put on their white clothes and gathered in the central square to take part in the daily morning meeting—standing shoulder to shoulder—to pray and share out the day’s errands. The ceremony was blessed by the community’s “Father,” Sergei Chuvalkov, a former colonel of strategic rocket forces.

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The Russian security service, the FSB , says it has arrested an Islamic State operative who was planning to murder one of the leaders of the After arriving in Russia, Magomedov retrieved items for use in the planned crime from a cache, including information and weapons with which to kill the target.

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The community has opened its doors to followers of all kinds; Russians; foreigners; healthy people or those with serious disabilities or psychiatric illnesses. It has always allowed law enforcements to come and inspect life inside the commune. High level officials including the governor of Krasnoyarsk, Alexander Khloponin, have even visited.

But the Russian Orthodox Church called the Vissarion “a faker,” and an “anti-Christ.” They say his teaching is “heresy.” The law enforcement authorities have also investigated the community many times. Vissarion has been criticized for brain-washing his followers, for taking their money and even been blamed for some of their deaths, both suicidal and accidental.

Some well-connected officials are said to want the land and the woods where the Abode of Dawn has been built up, so members of the cult feared the FSB would seek a reason to evict them, forcing them to escape deeper into the Taiga.

The FSB began to question hundreds of cult members over 13 alleged criminal and bureaucratic charges in December. The community members told The Daily Beast they did not know what the crimes were. The FSB has promised to ban the religion and all the literature.

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Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin (/ˈpuːtɪn/; Russian: Влади́мир Влади́мирович Пу́тин [vɫɐˈdʲimʲɪr vɫɐˈdʲimʲɪrəvʲɪtɕ ˈputʲɪn] (listen); born 7 October 1952)

After Torop, Redkin and Vedernikov were arrested on Tuesday, investigators said they had “extracted income from religious activities, they attracted funds from citizens, and also used psychological violence against them, as a result of which, some of the followers of the religious organization suffered serious health damage.”

The three men were flown from Siberia to Moscow on Tuesday afternoon, while Russian Facebook and Telegram users discussed whether the arrests of the cult's leaders were a part of the massive attack on religious minorities. Since 2017, Russia has arrested leaders of the Church of Scientology and put 32 Jehovah’s witnesses behind bars.

Chuvalkov, the colonel turned “Father,” does not believe the crackdown will succeed in making the cult disappear. “We followed our Teacher to the depth of Siberia, about five thousand people joined us, we built a unique eco-community, I don’t think that by arresting people the state will manage to ruin our beliefs,” he told The Daily Beast.

On my second trip to the commune last week, I also met Plotnikova, 48, the mother of seven children, about a third of the community’s population is made up of kids.

Plotnikova was born to parents who were both unable to walk. She was taken from them by doctors at a young age. “I have been through hell in my life, thanks to the Vissarion, who came to our institution and helped us two decades ago, I ended up here with my own home, my own garden, with seven happy and healthy children,” Plotnikova told me. “I am not afraid for my fate—I have been through hell—but I am very much upset that my kids are terrified. I just say to my husband: ‘Zhenia, what will happen to our kids now?’”

By Tuesday evening, a member of the cult claimed that FSB agents had locked all of the men in the Adobe of Dawn into one barn. The agents have set up a camp with a field kitchen, so don’t look like they are set to pull out anytime soon.

Svetlana Gannushkina, a well-respected human rights campaigner, said this kind of crackdown could be unpredictable. “I don’t believe that Vissarion is Christ, all I know is that an ideology can be beaten only with ideology; somebody has obviously complained and may be for a serious reason but the methods used turn leaders into martyrs,” she said. “It is unlikely the community is going to believe their leader is a criminal, their belief can only turn more fanatical, as we know from history of Christianity.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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