Court to decide on compulsory treatment for Penza sect leader

Penza, Russia - The case against Penza hermits leader Pyotr Kuznetsov has been sent to court which will decide on compulsory psychiatric treatment, head of an Investigations Committee department Oleg Troshin told Itar-Tass on Tuesday.

An examination found Kuznetsov insane. "In this connection, no charges were brought against him, but in the course of the investigation into the criminal case, proofs were gathered on corpus delicti in his actions, covered by Article 239, Part 1 of Russia's Criminal Code (setting up a religious or public association, whose activity involve violence on citizens or other harm to their health) and Article 282 (inciting hate or strife and humiliation of human dignity), Troshin said.

"The case materials have been referred to court for deciding on the measure of compulsory treatment for him," he noted.

The case will be considered by the Bekovsky district court.

In early May, a court ruled that Pavel Kuznetsov's books were extremist.

In November 2007, 35 adepts of the a so-called True Orthodox Church - mostly Russian and Belarus citizens - went into the cave with several children.

They took with them enough food and canisters with gasoline, with which they threatened exploding themselves if anybody interfered with their reclusion.

When spring floodwaters washed the floor of the cave and it collapsed in three places, seven female sect members saw it as a bad omen and left the underground.

The ground collapsed once more shortly thereafter, and 14 other hermits, including three men, nine women and two girls of 8 and 15 went to the surface together with their new leader Vitaly Nedogon.

The hermits moved into the houses of the leaders - Pyotr Kuznetsov and Vitaly Nedogon, to continue their reclusion.

Kuznetsov earlier attempted to commit suicide by hitting himself several times with a log on the head, because he was upset his doomsday prophecy had not come true.

Two hermits died in the underground cave several months ago. Nedogon, a sect leader, said one of the women had died from voluntary starvation, the other from cancer, but police launched a probe regardless.