Russia: the guru Sergei Torop, alias "Jesus of Siberia", was arrested

Guru Sergei Torop, head of the “Church of the Last Testament”, pictured here on August 28, 2009. Alexander Nemenov / AFP

Text by: Daniel Vallot Follow

3 min

He is one of the most famous Russian gurus.

Sergei Torop, called "Vissarion" by his disciples, considers himself the reincarnation of Jesus Christ, and had enrolled in his sect several thousand people.

He was arrested on Tuesday September 22.

The Russian authorities accuse him of extortion of money and psychological violence. 


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From our correspondent in Moscow, 

They have lived in near autarky, in the middle of the Siberian forest, for a quarter of a century.

The members of the “Church of the Last Testament” saw, this Tuesday, September 22 in the morning, their guru being taken by helicopter by the Russian special forces.

Arrested with two of his relatives, Sergei Torop is accused of having extorted money from his disciples and of having carried out serious “psychological violence” against them.

Until now, the Russian authorities had allowed the sect to develop unhindered.

But in recent years, pressure has increased in Russia on sectarian movements, or considered as such.


Jehovah's Witnesses

have thus been sentenced to prison terms for belonging to an "extremist organization".  

He claims to be the reincarnation of Christ

It was in 1991 that Sergei Torop founded the “Church of the Last Testament”, a mixture of Orthodox Christianity, Buddhism and ecological precepts.

Born in 1961 into a modest family in Siberia, the one who calls himself "Vissarion" claims to be a reincarnation of Jesus Christ.

The millennial discourse of this former policeman, in the troubled years following the collapse of the USSR, seduced several thousand followers in Russia, but also abroad, in particular in Germany.

In the mid-1990s, the “City of the Sun” sheltered several hundred people in a Siberian forest.

About twenty hamlets are built around, in the Krasnoyarsk region. 

The end of the world postponed several times

To escape the end of the world, the date of which is announced several times, then postponed, “Vissarion” asks his supporters to limit contact with the outside world as much as possible.

Its followers observe an ultra-vegetarian lifestyle, without schools and without doctors.

Their objective: the organization of a self-sufficient community.

Soft voice, long beard and gray hair, the leader of the sect, also nicknamed "Jesus of Siberia", imposes strict rules, and does not hesitate to exclude offenders.

According to the Russian press, cult members were to cede a substantial portion of their income to the cult.

Asked by the

Moscow Times

last spring, one of his deputies claimed that the sect was

de facto

protected from the

Covid-19 pandemic

, due to its isolation.

And added that the number of people wishing to join her had tripled since the onset of the disease.


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