MSN.com by Chris Arnold Wed., Sept. 23, 2020
A cult leader claiming to be the reincarnation of Jesus Christ has been arrested in Siberia, Russia’s Investigative Committee says, and charged with various crimes.
Sergei Torop, a 59-year-old former Red Army conscript who goes by the name Vissarion, allegedly subjected members of his sect to psychological and physical violence. He also faces charges of organizing an illegal religious organization, the Guardian reports .
For the last 30 years, Torop has been living as a pseudo-diety surrounded by thousands of followers across multiple settlements. People from around Russia and the world have flocked to Siberia to meet the false idol.
The arrest operation consisted of dozens of troops from the Russian National Guard and four helicopters. Special Spetsnaz officers with machine guns were seen on the cult’s land, wearing masks.
Two other members of the cult, known as the Church of the Last Testament, were also arrested, including a former Soviet-era boy band drummer called Vadim Redkin.
If convicted, they face up to 12 years in prison.
Torop has denied claims made against him, according to the Daily Mail , saying he’d never seen some of the alleged victims, and adding that others among his accusers are known for causing trouble and complaining. His family is now left behind to fend for themselves, he lamented.
“I live in the taiga (tundra), on the land,” Torop said. “There I have a wife and three small children, underaged children. It will now be very very hard for them.”
The Church of the Last Testament was founded by Torop in 1991 after he lost his job as a traffic officer and had an awakening, he told the Guardian in 2002.
“I am not God,” Torop said. And it is a mistake to see Jesus as God. But I am the living word of God the father. Everything that God wants to say, he says through me.”