Beslan mothers ask for legal probe of Russian cult

Moscow, Russia - Mothers of children killed in Russia's Beslan school tragedy have demanded a probe into a cult leader who has offered to resurrect the victims, saying he is trying to discredit their campaign for justice.

Grigory Grabovoi, who says he can heal, save people and cure AIDS with his mind, convinced several Beslan mothers at a seance in Moscow last weekend that their children would return -- prompting the press to characterize them as deranged by grief.

"This cultist's cynical promise to resurrect those killed in the terrorist act is blasphemous to all those who suffered in this dreadful tragedy," said an appeal to General Prosecutor Vladimir Ustinov faxed to Reuters on Tuesday.

"We ... ask you to investigate the legality of Grigory Grabovoi's actions and to bring him to justice under Russian law," said the appeal, signed by a group of mothers.

Earlier the "Beslan Mothers" group had been celebrated for their efforts to bring to justice officials they say were inept or too corrupt to stop the tragedy from unfurling in September 2004, leading the deaths of 331 people -- most of them children.

At the meeting with President Vladimir Putin, they blamed him for the tragedy, which they said was caused above all by the incompetent and corrupt behavior of his police and officials.

Some mothers said un-named officials were now using Grabovoi to discredit their demands that top officials be brought to account by making it appear the mothers were deranged, thereby insinuating that their demands were not valid.

"The designers of this attack are presenting us to all Russia as psychologically ill," said a statement.

"Who paid $10,000 for these women to go and see Grabovoi? ... Obviously those who did not like the women's visit to Putin and the demands that he admit his guilt, which would mean the guilt of the secret services and the whole state."

Russian newspapers compared Grabovoi to Grigory Rasputin -- the "mad monk" who gained influence over Russia's royal family during and before World War One.

The mothers who met Grabovoi, including group head Susanna Dudiyeva, were not available for comment.

"I believe in this miracle and know that it will happen. My maternal heart and my maternal faith tells me this," Dudiyeva was quoted by the Izvestia daily as telling the seance.

Dudiyeva's mobile phone was turned off on Tuesday and Grabovoi did not return repeated calls to his office.