About 30 religious fanatics took shelter in an underground hide-out which they dug themselves. The people provided themselves with a certain amount of food and water. They say that they are expecting doomsday in their shelter, RIA Novosti reports with reference to regional Prosecutor Alevtina Volchkova.
The people say that they represent the genuine Russian Orthodox Church. They dug out a large tunnel under the ground with a well, cells, a kitchen and other dwellings. They settled in the underground lodgment made near a village in the Penza region of Russia and wrote an official letter to local authorities claiming that they started living there according to their own will.
“The inhabitants of the dungeon say that they will set themselves ablaze if authorities take efforts to evict them from the place,” Volchkova said.
The Office of the Public Prosecutor of the Penza region filed a criminal case in connection with the incident in the village. Local authorities say that the people’s organization and the way of living infringe upon human rights and dignity.
The leader of the group is a man, whom the people call Father Peter. His followers came to the Penza region from other regions of Russia as well as from CIS countries. Authorities plan to conduct the psychiatric expertise of the sectarian leader for the sake of other people’s safety.
Incidents of mass suicides committed by religious fanatics or sectarians are not that rare as it may seem. More than 900 members of the U.S. religious sect called People’s Temple killed themselves at the call of their leader, Jim Jones, on November 18, 1978.
On April 19 1993 about 90 sectarians set themselves ablaze in Waco, Texas, at the Branch Davidian ranch. The 51-day siege by the Federal Bureau of Investigation ended on April 19 when the complex was destroyed by fire. Seventy-eight people, including 21 children and two pregnant women, along with Davidian leader David Koresh, died in the incident. This has come to be known as the Waco Siege, Battle of Mt. Carmel, or the Waco Massacre.
Forty-eight members of the religious sect The Order of the Sun Temple burned alive on October 5, 1994 in Switzerland.
Sixteen people including three children killed themselves in the ritual fire at the end of December 1995 in France.
Thirty-nine members of a UFO sect called Heaven’s Gate were found dead on March 26, 1997 in San Diego, California. The people died of phenobarbital overdose.
In 2000 hundreds of people entered the church in the town of Kanungu, Uganda and set the building on fire after several hours of praying. The number of victims exceeded 500 people.
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov