Moscow – Russia on Tuesday arrested the leader of a Siberian sect, claiming to be the reincarnation of Jesus in an operation involving the armed forces and aircraft. The Committee to Investigate Serious Crimes said it had detained Sergei Thorpe, known as the Visarian The Teacher or Jesus of Siberia, and his two aides.
Footage released by investigators showed the 59-year-old Visarian, with long hair and beard, and two other men riding in masked commandos and helicopters from the van.
The operation of the remote settlement in the Krasnoyarsk region of Siberia involves members of the FSB security service and other law enforcement agencies.
Torpe, a former traffic police officer, said he felt “awakened” when he lost his job in 1989 as the atheist communist regime was quickly exposed.
In 1991, he founded what is now the Last Testament Church.
Several thousand members of the Vizierian sect live in remote villages in Siberia.
One follower, Alexander Starorov, posted several videos on Facebook showing military helicopters and vehicles parked in a field.
Investigators said the self-proclaimed Messiah and his associates solicited funds from the disciples and emotionally abused them.
The committee of inquiry said it was planning to allow the sect’s leaders to organize an illegal religious organization and to “cause serious harm to two or more people.”
Asked by AFP how he knew he was the Son of God, Visarian said in 2009: “I felt something violent growing inside me that was kept until then.”
His followers cling to the mess of Russian rhetorical rites and creeds drawn to environmentally friendly values.
The adaptation includes musicians, doctors, teachers, Red Army colonels, former ministers of Belarus and pilgrims from Cuba, Bulgaria, Belgium, Australia, Australia and Germany.
In the 1990s, some of Visarian devotees died either by suicide or as a result of harsh living conditions and lack of medical care.