Islamist sect found living underground near Russian city for nearly 10 years
Fayzarahmanist sect with 70 members – including 20 children – discovered in bunker near Kazan without heat or light
A member of the Fayzarahmanist sect at its base near the Russian city of Kazan. Photograph: Nikolay Alexandrov/AP
Seventy members of an Islamist sect in Russia have been found living in an underground bunker without heat or sunlight on the outskirts of the city of Kazan
, according to Russian media.
The sect members – including 20 children, the youngest of whom was 18 months old – are thought to have been underground for nearly a decade.
Many of the children were born underground and had never seen daylight until the prosecutors discovered them on 1 August.
After health checks, a 17-year-old girl turned out to be pregnant.
The group, known as the Fayzarahmanist sect, was named after its 83-year-old organiser Fayzrahman Satarov, who declared himself a prophet and his house an independent Islamic state, according to a report by state TV channel Vesti.
Satarov was described as a former deputy to a Sunni Islamic cleric in the 1970s. His followers were encouraged to read his manuscripts and most were banned from leaving their eight-storey underground bunker, which had been dug in the basement of a building, Vesti said.
Prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into the sect and have said it will be disbanded if it continues its illegal activities, such as stopping its members from seeking medical assistance or education.
No arrests have been made although police are likely to look into suspicions that some of the children were being abused. A court will decide whether the children will be allowed to stay with their parents.
Kazan is 497 miles east of Moscow in Tatarstan, a majority Muslim internal Russian republic.