Cult Leader Who Claims He’s Jesus Reincarnated Has Been Arrested In Russia
Russian authorities have arrested a cult leader who claims he’s Jesus reincarnated following accusations he was using followers’ money and psychological violence to inflict harm.
Sergei Torop, known to his followers as Vissarion Christ the Teacher, is a leader at a compound for the Church of the Last Testament in a southern district of Siberia’s Krasnoyarsk region.
Russia’s Investigative Committee said today that the cult leader and two of his deputies, including former rock musician Vadim Redkin, were detained after authorities stormed the commune with vans and helicopters.
See footage of the raid below:
Torop used to work as a traffic officer but came to prominence as Vissarion after the fall of the Soviet Union, when he established his community – which has been likened to a cult.
He now spends his time claiming to be Jesus and ‘teaching’ his followers, which he says are in the thousands. He has written a 10-volume ‘sequel to the Bible’ and lives in a comfortable chalet while his followers reside in wooden huts nearby.
The Investigative Committee claimed the cult’s leaders ‘used its members’ money and psychological violence’ in order to ‘generate income from religious activities’.
A statement continued:
As a result of prolonged exposure, some of the followers of the religious organisation suffered serious harm to their health.
Local resident Alexander Staroverov, who witnessed the early-morning raid, was quoted by the Tayga.info news website saying the operation involved four helicopters, dozens of buses, an ambulance and men in camouflage armed with combat weapons.
The raid was carried out by investigators from the Main Investigation Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, as well as employees of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia.
Torop’s religious organisation is officially registered with the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation, and around half of its followers live in Krasnoyarsk Territory. To abide by the religion, followers must not smoke, drink or exchange money, and they must accept a simple life in a wooden hut.
During an interview for a BBC documentary in 2017, Torop acknowledged that he had been accused of ‘brainwashing and embezzling’ his followers. He said he felt ‘sad’ but that the critics were ‘unavoidable’, adding, ‘I’ll put down the basis that will change all humanity.’
Investigators intend to charge Torop and his deputies with creating a religious association that uses violence. The investigation into their crimes is ongoing.
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CreditsRussia's Investigative Committee and 2 others
Russia's Investigative Committee