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Religion Cult
Church Church of the Last Testament
Other names Vissarion
Nationality Russian
Born Sergey Anatolyevitch Torop
(1961-01-14) 14 January 1961 (age 57)
Krasnodar, Russia
Children Roman
Parents Anatoly Torop and Nadia Malashenko

Sergey Anatolyevitch Torop (Russian: Серге́й Анатольевич Тороп, Sergej Anatolʹevič Torop; born 14 January 1961 in Krasnodar, Russian SFSR), known by his followers as Vissarion (Russian: Виссарион, IPA: [vʲɪsərʲɪˈon], "He who gives new life"), is a Russian mystic and cult 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 reincarnated Christ. He teaches reincarnation, vegetarianism, and apocalypse. On 18 August 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".


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, 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. His followers observe strict regulations, are vegetarians,[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.[6]

Tiberkul, the settlement in the Taiga, was established in 1994 on a territory of 2.5 square kilometres (620 acres), and today the community spans several nearby villages as well, including villages of Petropavlovka and Cheremshanka, at ca. 53°53′N 93°45′E / 53.883°N 93.750°E / 53.883; 93.750, and counts some five thousand inhabitants, largely living autochthonous and on 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.

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 woman, 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.


Vissarion's cult is estimated[by whom?] 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.[11] The video depicts the settlement and the people as a very nice place with good people, but the ideas of the "religion" as very cultish. This was the first time Vissarion had granted 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.

In August 2012, the 16x9 YouTube channel uploaded an interview titled "Jesus of Siberia".[12] In August 2013, the SBS Dateline YouTube channel uploaded a video called "Jesus of Siberia"[13]

In January 2014, the RT YouTube Channel uploaded a documentary titled "Siberian 'Messiah' (RT Documentary)".[14] The video shows that he predicts that a great flood is coming and that he promises salvation and spiritual perfection to his followers. His followers choose to abandon their homes and build settlements near the sacred Mountain, where “The Teacher” lives. One woman, a former member of the cult, in the video shares her experience and explains how her new faith has torn her family apart.

In 2017, he appeared on the BBC documentary Russia with Simon Reeve.

There is a community in Russia who are followers of Vissarion in Siberia, the population of this community is 4000. There are Vissarion churches in Germany and in Bulgaria.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]