Russian City Bans Esoteric Sect

ITAR-TASS in BBC Monitoring/November 9, 2005

Voronezh, 9 November: The Belovodye [White Water] sect, which has been banned in Voronezh, aimed to spread its activities to the countries of Western Europe, the head of public relations at the Voronezh Region Federal Security Service Directorate, Pavel Bolshunov, said today in conversation with the ITAR-TASS correspondent.

He said "the sect's activities in Russia began in eastern areas of the country. Cells first emerged in Khabarovsk, Irkutsk and Novosibirsk then moved to the Volga and central regions of the country." Its leaders used drugs, known as shaman's tea, when selecting and recruiting members to the sect, including juveniles. Using shaman's tea makes people lose their sense of reality and experience a state of inexplicable euphoria. It was also added to children's drinks, Bolshunov said.

Evidence that the sect planned to spread to the West was given to law-enforcement staff by a follower who subsequently became disillusioned with its teachings. The 29-year-old resident of Khabarovsk Territory said that sect leader Konstantin Rudnev had talked about these plans on many occasions. As a first step in disseminating the sect's teachings and attracting new members, pornographic videos were made, involving sect members, and sent to Western European countries. "It cannot be ruled out that shaman's tea, which is effectively a new narcotic, was sent to the same places," the spokesman for the Federal Security Service directorate said.

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