True Russian Orthodox Church

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The True Russian Orthodox Church (Russian: Настоящая русская православная церковь) was a Independent Russian Orthodox-like doomsday cult founded by Pyotr Kuznetsov. The self-name of the group was "Heavenly Jerusalem" (Russian: Горний Иерусалим).[1] This group broke away from the Russian Orthodox Church, considering it insufficiently orthodox. Its members were not allowed to eat processed food, watch television and handle money. They rejected bar codes, National identification number and passports because they contained satanic symbols ("the number of the Beast").[2][3]

In November 2007, between 29-35 members[4][5] of the group holed themselves up in a cave in Russia's Penza region, near the village Nikolskoye, threatening mass suicide if authorities tried to intervene. Kuznetsov had told them to hide themselves away to await the end of the world, which he predicted would take place in May 2008. Kuznetsov himself was not with the group, but had been placed under police arrest.[5][6]

On March 28, 2008, seven women who had holed up in a cave for months were being treated by emergency workers, regional officials said.[7] Three days later 14 members emerged from the cave after melting snow caused part of the cave to collapse.[4]

On April 3, 2008 Kuznetsov was taken to a hospital where "Officials said that he may have attempted suicide after realising his prediction had been wrong."[2] In subsequent years, he was in a psychiatric ward with a diagnosis of paranoia. In 2016, the court once again extended the period of his compulsory treatment at the request of the Chief of the regional psychiatric clinic.[8]

On May 16, 2008 the last nine members of the cult emerged from the bunker due to the toxic fumes produced by two cult members who had died over winter.[9] On May 21, after removing the bodies of the dead, the cave was blown up. Officially, it was done because of its danger to local population and curious visitors.[10]

After leaving the cave, most of the sect members left the village, except for one family. Several people moved to a deaf village in Belarus. Vasily Nedogon, head of the family remaining in Nikolskoye, in 2012 continued to live with his wife and three children without electricity and passports; he still waited that the End time will come soon.[11]


  1. ^ "True Russian Orthodox Church / Heavenly Jerusalem". 2008-03-31.
  2. ^ a b Halpin, Tony (April 3, 2008). "Cult leader Pyotr Kuznetsov tries suicide after realising he was wrong about doomsday". London: The Times Online. Retrieved 2008-04-24.
  3. ^ George D. Chryssides (2012). Historical Dictionary of New Religious Movements. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 348. ISBN 978-0-8108-6194-7.
  4. ^ a b "Doomsday cult members emerge from Russian cave". CBC News. 2008-04-01.
  5. ^ a b "Doomsday cult threaten suicide". CNN. 2007-11-17.
  6. ^ "Russia cult members in cave siege". BBC News. 2007-11-16.
  7. ^ Mike Eckel (2008-03-28). "7 members of doomsday cult emerge from cave". AP.
  8. ^ "В Пензе продолжают лечить лидера "бековских затворников" Петра Кузнецова". Пензенское информационное агентство. 15 September 2016. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
  9. ^ "Corpse stench drives Russian doomsday cult from cave". ABC News. May 16, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-16.
  10. ^ "The investigation into the death of two cult members in Penza concluded".
  11. ^ Медведева, Ольга (20 December 2012). "Пензенские затворники ждут другого Армагеддона". Комсомольская правда. Retrieved 22 October 2018.