Vissarion

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Sergey Anatolyevitch Torop (Russian: Серге́й Анатольевич Тороп, Sergej Anatolʹevič Torop; born January 14, 1961 in Krasnodar, Russian SFSR), known by his followers as Vissarion (Виссарион), is a Russian mystic and sect leader. He founded and heads a religious or sect movement known as the Church of the Last Testament with its head church in the Siberian Taiga in the Minusinsk Depression east of Abakan, in the southern Siberia Kuraginsk district of Krasnoyarsk territory, in the small settlement of Petropavlovka. He has around 4,000 followers (called Vissarionites) living in the settlement and around 10,000 followers worldwide. [1]

Vissarion claims to be a reincarnation of Jesus. He teaches reincarnation, veganism, the impending end of the world (or at least of civilization as we know it), and the belief of aliens. On August 18, 1990, when he was 29, Vissarion claims that he had a revelation that he was the reincarnation of Christ. He first spoke publicly in Minusinsk on 18 August 1991. He founded the "Church of the Last Testament" (Церковь Последнего Завета Tserkov Poslednego Zaveta), also known as "Community of Unified Faith".

History[edit]

Vissarion was born in Krasnodar; after service in the Red Army, he settled in Minusinsk. He worked as a patrol officer before losing his job in 1989.[2] He claims that in 1990 he was "reborn" as Vissarion, the returned Jesus Christ. In his system this does not make him God, but instead the word of God. His religion combines elements of the Russian Orthodox Church with Buddhism, apocalypticism, collectivism, and ecological values. His followers observe strict regulations, are vegans,[3] and are allowed no vices such as smoking or drinking alcohol and money is banned.[4][5] The aim of the group is to unite all religions on Earth. Vissarion formed his religion around the time of the fall of the USSR, not by coincidence but because religion became an accepted way of life.[6]

Tiberkul, the settlement in the Taiga, was established in 1994 on a territory of 2.5 square kilometres, and today counts some five thousand inhabitants, largely living autochthonous and on ecological principles. It is centered on the villages of Petropavlovka and Cheremshanka, at ca. 53°53′N 93°45′E / 53.883°N 93.750°E / 53.883; 93.750. The settlement has a three-tiered structure: the Town itself (Abode of Dawn), the Heavenly Abode, and the Temple Peak.

In October 1995, the religious association of Vissarion officially registered as the "Church of the Last Testament".

Personal life[edit]

Vissarion has two wives, and six children from two marriages. He rejected his first wife and married a nineteen year-old girl, who had lived with Vissarion since the age of seven.[7]

Vissarion has a sister named Irina. Vissarion considers Mary, mother of Jesus, as his own mother.[8] The biological mother of Vissarion is a woman named Nadyezhda.

Interpretation[edit]

Vissarion's sect is estimated to have some ten thousand adherents, with claims of up to 50,000 adherents in eighty-three communities spread over 150 square kilometers.[citation needed].

Since 1992, biographer Vadim Redkin has published an annual volume detailing Vissarion's activities. Vissarion has attracted a number of followers from Germany's esoteric subculture, and seven volumes of Vadim's account have been translated into German.[9]

In March 2010, UK TV channel, Channel 4 showed an hour long documentary about Vissarion and his followers.[10] In May 2012, the Vice YouTube channel uploaded a video titled “Cult Leader Thinks He’s Jesus (Documentary Exclusive)”. This video follows the experiences of Rocco, a reporter for Vice in Petropavlovka and his interview with Vissarion. The video depicts the settlement and the people as a very nice place with good people, but the ideas of the “religion” as a very cultish one. This was the first time Vissarion accepted an interview in three years. Rocco asked him about the stance of his religion and what it is based on, such as aliens, the downfall of the USSR, his favorite color and foods, and his experiences and memories of Jesus. Vissarion avoided direct answers.

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