Putin urges tougher control over ‘mushrooming’ cults

The Russian government should toughen its laws governing the activities of the totalitarian cults cropping up across the country, President Vladimir Putin said during a Thursday meeting in the southeastern region of Samara.

Totalitarian religious groups pose a threat to the society and people, he said: “It’s a hunt not only for souls, but also people’s property.”

One of the participants at the meeting called on Putin to step up pressure on these sects. They also suggested creating a database of such groups, which would be made available to regional education ministries and schools.

Earlier this year, a reclusive Muslim sect was discovered in Russia’s Tatarstan. Over 70 people, including 27 children, spent a decade in an eight-level catacomb without access to education, healthcare and daylight.

In 2007, a similar story was uncovered in Russia’s Penza region, shocking the entire country: Nearly 30 cultists dug a shelter, stocked it with food and spent several months waiting for the apocalypse, which they expected to happen in May 2008.

Putin noted that he often hears similar complaints about cults during his visits to Russia’s various regions.

“All sort of huts where various unclear rituals are performed are mushrooming. Or people are being forced under the ground. It’s a problem, I agree with you,” he said, adding that he vowed to tackle the issue.