Russian doomsday cult siege ends

Moscow, Russia - The last remaining members of a Russian cult who had barricaded themselves inside a cave, waiting for the end of the world, have come out.

The eight men and a woman left the cave reportedly overcome by the stench from the bodies of two people who had died.

Thirty-five followers of self-declared prophet Pyotr Kuznetsov entered the cave, in the country's central Penza region, last November.

They had threatened to blow themselves up if police tried to remove them.

A local official quoted by Interfax news agency said the remaining members had decided to leave because there was a "threat of poisoning from toxic corpse fumes".

Reports of the two deaths emerged last month. One man who left the cave on 1 April said one member had died from fasting and the other of cancer.


Thirty-five cult members initially went into the cave, about 650km (400 miles) south-east of Moscow.

Most emerged gradually, but a few remained inside defying police pleas to leave.

The sect, who call themselves a devout splinter group of the Russian Orthodox Church, believes doomsday will occur this month.

Mr Kuznetsov, who calls himself Father Pyotr, declared himself a prophet some years ago and has attracted followers in Russia and Belarus.

He did not join his followers in the cave, and has been receiving treatment in a psychiatric clinic.

He has been charged with setting up a religious organisation associated with violence.