A cult leader who claims to be the reincarnation of Jesus Christ has been arrested in Siberia, Newsweek reports.
Footage captured when the man, born Sergei Torop, was cuffed and taken away in a helicopter from his Church of the Last Testament compound in the southern district of the Krasnoyarsk region. According to The Moscow Times, an investigative Committee concluded that the group’s leader known to his followers as Vissarion Christ the Teacher and two of his aides “used its members’ money and psychological violence” against them, causing “serious harm to some members’ health.”
The homes of the cult’s leaders and members were also being searched. Torop, a former traffic officer, is accused of organizing an illegal religious organization while allegedly extorting money from their followers.
Torop claims to have experienced an “awakening” after losing his job in 1989. The Church of the Last Testament was reportedly set up in 1991, and the group set up their community in what would become known as “Sun City” in the Kuraginsky district four years later. Torop told The Guardian in 2002 that he doesn’t consider himself a God, but rather, a vessel for his teachings. “I am not God. And it is a mistake to see Jesus as God,” he said. “But I am the living word of God the father. Everything that God wants to say, he says through me.”
Followers of the Church of the Last Testament have reportedly tripled since the COVID-19 pandemic started.