Sect refuses expulsion, threatens suicide in Siberia

Agence France-Presse/March 2, 1999

Moscow -- Some 60 Pentecostalists took over a public building in Yakutia, eastern Siberia, and threatened to commit suicide if authorities forced them out, Russian media reported Tuesday.

The fundamentalist Christians invaded the building Monday to protest against a January decision by residents of their village, Kutana, to expel them.

Security forces surrounded the Aldan district building as the Pentecostalists inside, who included an estimated 20 children, sang and danced, media reports said.

Regional officials tried to talk the protestors out of the building without success.

"What they want is not clear. They are reluctant to open a dialogue," regional official Alexei Shashkov told ITAR-TASS.

A man known as "Pastor Yevgeny," who served a 13-year prison sentence for murdering his wife, was the group's leader, the reports said.

Two years ago, the group occupied a police station in the Ust-Maya district, near Aldan where they currently reside.

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