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Vissarion portrait.jpg
Photograph of Vissarion displayed in Petropavlovka
Other namesVissarion
Sergey Anatolyevitch Torop

(1961-01-14) 14 January 1961 (age 59)
ReligionChristian based new religious movement
ParentsAnatoly Torop and Nadia Malashenko
Other namesVissarion
ChurchChurch of the Last Testament

Sergey Anatolyevitch Torop (Russian: Серге́й Анато́льевич То́роп, Sergej Anatolʹevič Torop; born 14 January 1961 in Krasnodar, Russian SFSR), known by his followers as Vissarion (Russian: Виссарио́н, IPA: [vʲɪsərʲɪˈon], "He who gives new life"), is a Russian mystic and spiritual leader.

Torop claims that on 18 August 1990, when he was 29, he had a revelation that he was the reincarnation of Christ. He first spoke publicly about his claim in Minusinsk on 18 August 1991. He founded the "Church of the Last Testament" (Церковь Последнего Завета Tserkov Poslednego Zaveta), also known as the "Community of Unified Faith", with its head church located in the Siberian Taiga in the Minusinsk Depression east of Abakan, in the small settlement of Petropavlovka. As Vissarion, he teaches reincarnation, veganism, and apocalypse. He has around 4,000 followers (called Vissarionites) living in the settlement and a further 6,000 followers around the world.[1]


Sergey Anatolyevitch Torop was born in Krasnodar to Anatoly Torop and Nadezhda (née Malashenko); after service in the Soviet Army, he settled in Minusinsk. He worked as a patrol officer before losing his job in 1989.[2][3] He claims that in 1990 he was "reborn" as Vissarion, a returned 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. Torop founded the Church of the Last Testament in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia in 1991 just before the fall of the USSR.[4] He predicted the imminent end of the world with only his followers being saved.[5]

His followers observe strict regulations, including abstaining from meat,[6] smoking, drinking alcohol and the use of money.[7][8] The aim of the group is to unite all religions on Earth.[9] He replaced Christmas with a feast day on his birthday (14 January) and claimed to possess an ability to heal cancer and AIDS with a touch from his hand.[5]

Tiberkul, the settlement in the Taiga, was established in 1994 on a territory of 2.5 square kilometres (620 acres), and expanded to several nearby villages, such as those of Petropavlovka and Cheremshanka, at ca. 56°37′N 96°12′E / 56.617°N 96.200°E / 56.617; 96.200. It has some four thousand inhabitants, largely living autochthonously and following ecological principles. The central settlement, also called The Town and The Mountain, has a three-tiered structure: the Town itself (Abode of Dawn), the Heavenly Abode, and the Temple Peak.


Since 1992, biographer Vadim Redkin has published an annual volume detailing Vissarion's activities. Vissarion has attracted followers from Germany's esoteric subculture, and seven volumes of Vadim's account have been translated into German.[10]

In May 2012, the Vice YouTube channel released "Cult Leader Thinks He's Jesus (Documentary Exclusive)", containing a report by Rocco Castoro, a reporter for Vice in Petropavlovka, and his interview with Vissarion.[11] The video depicts the settlement and the people as a very nice place with good people, but the ideas of the group as very cultish. This was the first time Vissarion had granted an interview in three years.

2020 arrest[edit]

On 22 September 2020, Russian authorities arrested Vissarion on charges of running an illegal religious organisation, possible physical harm to others, and extortion. He was apprehended by the FSB and Russian police, and taken to Novosibirsk central district court, along with two aides, Vadim Redkin and Vladimir Vedernikov.[4][12]

Personal life[edit]

Torop rejected his first wife and married a nineteen-year-old who had lived with him since she was a girl of seven. He has six children from the two marriages.[13]

Vissarion has a younger half-sister, Irina. Though he has a biological mother named Nadyezhda, Vissarion considers Mary, mother of Jesus, as his own mother.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Obscura, Atlas. "Russian Cult May be The Largest Religious Reservation In The World". Retrieved 1 November 2013.
  2. ^ Сибирский Иисус Христос - бывший гаишник
  3. ^ Traynor, Ian (24 May 2002). "Jesus of Siberia". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 September 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Sergei Torop: Russian religious sect leader arrested over allegations of harm". BBC News. 22 September 2020. Retrieved 23 September 2020.
  5. ^ a b Bennetts, Marc (23 September 2020). "Cult leader Vissarion held in armed Siberia helicopter raid". The Times. London. Retrieved 23 September 2020. (subscription required)
  6. ^ The Argus, Brighton 2002 Archived 2009-02-15 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ The Vissarion Cult in Russia - Lermanet, November 6, 2003
  8. ^ 'Reborn' Jesus Leads Vegans in Russia - Newser, August 29, 2009
  9. ^ "Cult Leader Thinks He's Jesus (Documentary Exclusive)". VICE News. 16 May 2012. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  10. ^ Vissarion
  11. ^ Cult Leader Thinks He’s Jesus
  12. ^ Walker, Shaun (22 September 2020). "Cult leader who claims to be reincarnation of Jesus arrested in Russia". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 September 2020.
  13. ^ Семён Максимов."Позови меня в даль светлую" или сказки дядюшки Виссариона//Миссионерское обозрение, № 3,4,6, 1998
  14. ^ Последний Завет. Т.1, СП-б, Фламинго, 1996, вопрос 24.

External links[edit]