Doomsday Cult Leader Pleads With Holed-up Flock

Followers refuse to release children
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 21, 2007 2:40 PM CST

(Newser) – Self-declared prophet Pyotr Kuznetsov today asked the doomsday cult he started to release four children from their underground cave, the AP reports. Confined to a psychiatric ward and charged with setting up a violent religion, Kuznetsov was brought to the site and spoke through a ventilation hole, telling adults and children they could leave.

"If anyone has lost heart," he said, "there is no reason for them to stay underground." The 29 followers' obsession with Kuzetsov, who told them not to watch TV or handle money, means he "the only who can persuade them to get out," said one professor. Convinced the world is ending in May, the followers wait in a cave southeast of Moscow and threaten to blow themselves up if forced to leave. (Read more cult stories.)