Russian doomsday cultists decide to remain in cave bunker

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Moscow, Apr 28 (UNI) Members of a doomsday cult taking shelter in a cave bunker since last November in Russia's Penza region have announced they will stay underground to escape the end of the world until a religious holiday in mid-June.

Thirty-five members of the doomsday cult went underground in the Penza Region to wait for the end of the world, which they say will come in May or June.

Two members of the sect have reportedly died, their bodies apparently buried in the shelter. Another 24 members, including four children, left the dugout about a month ago after most of the roof collapsed following heavy rain.

The remaining nine members had earlier promised to come to the surface today.

''I can say with 100 per cent certainty that their plans to leave the dugout have changed," Sergei Nedogon, son of one of the sect's leaders told RIA Novosti news agency today.

Mr Nedogon's father, Vitaly, is one of the hardcore doomsday cultists now refusing to come out of the cave bunker until after the Feast of the Holy Trinity.

A female member of the group who earlier came out of the bunker has confirmed the reports of deaths. However, local authorities have not been able to verify the information..

The sect's leader, Kuznetsov, 43, was admitted to hospital this month after an apparent suicide attempt.

Russian media initially reported that Kuznetsov, who did not join his followers underground, had been beaten by the emerging sect members after taking part in negotiations to persuade them to leave their shelter.

He had been held in an asylum in Penza about 600 km southeast of Moscow since November.

Despite one member of the sect claiming that the group is an offshoot of the Jehovah's Witnesses, the sect has generally been considered part of a wave of extreme Russian Orthodoxy in Russia and some former Soviet republics.

UNI XC RJ HT1815

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