Russian police have detained the self-styled “God Kuzya,” the head of a notorious radical cult accused of whipping and torturing members of his group, most of them women. Investigators found the equivalent of $4 million in his seven Moscow apartments.
38-year-old Andrey Popov, a visually impaired man, nicknamed God Kuzya after his dead parrot, is infamous for his claim, made in one of his speeches: “I was God who created Christ. I have already done eight times what Christ did.”
Popov is a man with multiple religious personas. He has previously called himself “Archbishop Roman,” and has variously claimed to be the reincarnation of Jesus Christ, Russian saint and spiritual leader Sergey Radonezhsky, 19th century Russian occultist Yelena Blavatskaya, and the Archangel Gabriel.
It has been reported that during one meeting with his followers, he whipped and tortured them with a belt up to 300 times, and slapped their faces up to 100 times. He allegedly punished followers for “offenses” such as communicating with the outside world, taking medicine, or making a phone call to relatives.
An eyewitness has claimed that during one of the beatings, God Kuzya was noticed shouting “Cool, cool!” and when the group member protested that he “was going to faint,” Kuzya replied that it was merely his body that was “weak,” but that his spirit “was holding up fine.”
Former members have revealed the structure of the cult, which is believed to have a strict hierarchy of six “circles.” In the first circle are his wives, the second includes his harem, and the third consists of close followers. The fourth circle includes other followers, with women in that circle aiming to get into the harem. Women who have managed to flee the group say that Popov enjoys torturing his wives and the harem, and any refusal is treated like an insult, with the woman who attempts to escape set to “pay with her blood.”
The fifth circle are those who don’t know about the godlike nature of “Kuzya,” and the sixth consists of those who were cast away by him – people in that circle are called “demons” or “cucumbers.”
Popov’s other passions apparently include money, and lots of it. According to some accounts, his followers used to prepare baths filled with banknotes for him. The cult’s source of income included selling apartments: the followers were to give their property and other “worldly possessions” to Popov.
The Russian Orthodox Church has accused Popov’s cult of setting up shop at Orthodox fairs, which are its alleged main source of income. The group members pretend to be representatives of a little-known cathedral or monastery, and offer to perform various religious services for money.
However, Popov then pocketed all the money himself and no services were ever conducted, media reported.
The police video from the scene obtained by RT shows a crocodile confiscated by police, as well as 43 million rubles and $100,000 found by the security forces.
Apart from that, police discovered “personal computers and notebooks containing ‘accountant’s notes’ indicative of unlawful actions aimed at getting money from innocent citizens,” police spokesman Andrey Galiakberov said.
Last May, police searched two apartments connected with the cult, finding 240 million rubles and $150,000 respectively, as well as child pornography.
Security forces also found several rare animals during their searches, including an armadillo, an echidna and a talking parrot.
Russian media have compared Popov’s cult with the notorious Tokyo sarin attackers, the infamous religious organization Aum Shinrikyo that killed 12 people, left 50 others severely wounded, and 1,000 visually impaired.
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