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Hope for end to Russia cave siege

Pyotr Kuznetsov
Cult leader Pyotr Kuznetsov was brought in to negotiate

Fresh talks are under way to persuade 28 doomsday cult members in Russia to end a five-month cave siege after seven sect women came to the surface.

The women were allowed to leave with cult leader Pyotr Kuznetsov after he was brought to the scene to negotiate.

The True Russian Orthodox Church members barricaded themselves into the cave in the Penza region, about 650km (400 miles) south-east of Moscow.

They are waiting for doomsday, which they believe will occur in May.

The members entered the cave in October and have refused to come out.

They threatened to detonate gas canisters if attempts were made to remove them and this week reportedly shot at police to drive them off.

However, there are reports of a split in the cult after a number of cave-ins due to prolonged rainfall. There are fears the cave could collapse completely.


Mr Kuznetsov, who is undergoing court-ordered psychiatric treatment, was brought to the scene and after negotiations was allowed to take the seven women to his home in a nearby village to await the May doomsday date there.


The vice governor of the Penza region, Oleg Melnichenko, said the women were in good health and did not need medical help.

"The women who have come out will continue their isolation until May, when supposedly the end of the world will happen. That was their condition, which we promised to respect," Mr Melnichenko said.

The governor's office said it hoped the remaining members would come out soon, possibly as early as Saturday.

Four children are among those still in the cave.

Mr Kuznetsov, who calls himself Father Pyotr, declared himself a prophet a number of years ago and has attracted followers in Russia and Belarus.

He is thought to have ordered his followers into the cave but did not join them.

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