News / Europe

Abuse Probe Follows Discovery of Underground Cult

Member of Islamic sect calls for evening prayer from atop the house where followers lived in seclusion, Kazan, Russia, Aug. 9, 2012.
Member of Islamic sect calls for evening prayer from atop the house where followers lived in seclusion, Kazan, Russia, Aug. 9, 2012.
MOSCOW — At least 20 children have been discovered living in an underground bunker beneath a house in Kazan, in the eastern republic of Tatarstan.

Prosecutors say that many of the children have never seen sunlight because they weren't allowed to leave the bunker and that their parents are being investigated for possible child abuse.
 
Russian officials discovered the Islamist sect on the outskirts of the city, which is located about 800 kilometers west of Moscow. At least 70 adults and 20 children were living in an area beneath the building's basement.
 
Irina Petrova, an aide to Kazan’s prosecutor, described the living conditions as less than human.
 
"The premises consist of cells without natural light and ventilation dug into the ground," she said. "It is an eight-level anthill. Not only adults were living on these premises, but also children."
 
After the bunker was discovered, the children, many of whom were born underground, were brought to clinics to be checked.
 
"Children were in satisfactory condition. They were all fed, although they were dirty. Upon receiving them, we washed them," said Tatiana Moroz, head of Kazan’s in-patient children’s clinic, explaining that all of the children have been examined by a range of specialists. "Saturday the full analysis will be finished and we will give our final conclusion about the condition of their health."
 
Prosecutors reported that one of the girls found underground was 17 and pregnant.
 
Officials said that no one has been arrested in conjunction with the sect, but police have opened an investigation that could culminate in charges of child abuse. The youngest child found was 17-months old.
 
One former sect member who asked to remain anonymous said living with the group was not easy.
 
"The living conditions were spartan, everyone made do as he was able," the former member said. "We also put the beds together by hand; other things were found and brought — things like a metal bed. The children slept in these conditions. There were not enough clothes. Some people donated clothes. Some people took clothes from garbage bins and brought them."
 
The group’s founder, 83-year-old Fayzrahman Saratov, who declared himself a prophet, defended the sect and the fact that the group cut all ties with the outside world.
 
"I left my daughter, I left all my relatives," said Saratov. "[I] told them, if you want to live as a follower of Allah, you should come here. I will give you a place. We will feed you, give you clothes. Allah will provide clothing and if you are not going to follow Allah, go away from here."
 
The court system will decide whether the children remain with their parents. Meanwhile, prosecutors said they will make a request to have the underground bunker demolished.

You May Like

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Josef Habich from: Austria
August 11, 2012 10:17 AM
I know geography is not the forte of the most Americans, but Kazan is in Asia, not in Europe.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid