August 9th, 2012
12:27 PM ET

Police free Russian cult kids who reportedly never saw sun

At least 57 members of an Islamist sect, including children, have been discovered living underground in the Republic of Tatarstan, according to Russian police.

Many of them have never even seen the sun, authorities said.

The sect members, which includes at least 19 children ages 1 to 17, were freed. They were found August 1 during a police raid performed as part of an ongoing investigation into militant groups in Tatarstan. The bunker, which appeared to be made of decrepit concrete blocks, has multiple levels below ground with tight-quartered cells that have no light, ventilation or heat.

The leader of the sect is reportedly Fayzrahman Satarov, an 83-year-old who pronounced himself a prophet destined to direct a caliphate, according to a report by Russia state TV channel Vesti.

Amid chants of defiance, police detained Satarov and some other members, and they are facing charges.

Russian media reports say his followers lived in isolation, refusing to recognize Russian laws or the authority of mainstream Muslim leaders in Tatastan.

The bunker is located near the city of Kazan in Tatarstan, about 500 miles from Moscow.

Tatarstan is majority Muslim and oil rich.

Shireen T. Hunter is a noted scholar on Islam and Russia, and is the director of the Carnegie Project on Reformist Islam at Georgetown University. She has visited Tatarstan and Kazan several times to do research.

It's important, she said, to keep in mind that little is known about the group and simply because the leader identifies himself as Islamist, there should not be immediate connections drawn between the group and Islam in the area as a whole.

"This could just be some 83-year-old who wants to control people," she said. "This may have nothing at all to do with radical or extreme Islam as we understand it. This man - creating a caliphate? How is he going to do that? This just doesn't seem like the modis operandi of a serious radical cell bent on challenging the government."

Kazan is a pleasant city with coffee and clothing shops, Hunter said.  Some women wear hijabs, others don't. Some women work and other choose not to, she said. In recent years, many people have bought villas and other housing in Kazan.

It's conceivable to her that a group could live underground and go unnoticed for years.

"If I decided to live underground in Washington, D.C., I could do that, and so could other people," she said.

Health worker Tatiana Moroz told CNN that the children are in "satisfactory condition" and that they have been fed. Some were sent to the hospital for care.

"Upon receipt from the building, the children were in satisfactory condition," she said. "The children were all fed, although they were dirty. Upon receiving them, we washed them. They have undergone a full examination - all the Russian specialists have examined them, and taken all the analyses. [Friday] the full analyses will be finished and we will give our final conclusion about the condition of their health."

CNN's Matthew Chance contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Russia
soundoff (230 Responses)
  1. joep111

    Islam is evil.

    August 9, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Leroy Jenkins

      You're an idiot.

      August 9, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Crowley

      No more so than any other religion. Religion in general isn't the problem. It's the nutjobs that are part of any big sect that are.
      And make no mistake about it, all religions started as sects. It's the amount of people that turn a sect into a religion.

      August 9, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      I could easily say the same of Christianity.

      August 9, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • us_1776

      The evidence does keep mounting.


      August 9, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • NutGrinder

      @Leroy Jenkins: and your name is Leroy Jeeeeeennnnnkkkkiiiiinnnnnssssss!!!!!!! LOL

      August 9, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
  2. theyRsimplyWrong

    Fayzrahman Satarov should be a jail cell prophet!

    August 9, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. vikky

    Its like a new birth a new world for the kids..these maniacs who did this should
    be sent to another death.

    August 9, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      Thanks for making us sound like monkeys.

      August 9, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. 666

    This is a perfect article for phillip!

    August 9, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ANDY

    to a better place
    they should be
    sent; never
    to taste sun

    August 9, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jennifer

    In Russia mad cult zealots are arrested, In Corporate America they're given endless tax breaks....

    August 9, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • tello

      fool, those are apples and oranges

      August 9, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  7. sumday

    how could they live without ventilation? Where did they get the food to live for 10 yrs, or the money to buy food? Would like a few more details about this.

    August 9, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mike

    Let the Sunshine in !!

    August 9, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • ihtfpaeoh

      LOL Pebbles and Bam-Bam?

      August 9, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Islam4fools

    Why won't CNN include radical Islam in the headline?

    This backward way of torturing kids has everything to do with backward Islamic thinking? Why won't CNN openly state that?

    August 9, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boo

      Read the article........sheesh!

      August 9, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Church of Suicidal

      Because this was a cult, Mensa. These whack-jobs had as much to do with mainstream Islam as David Koresh had to do with mainstream Christianity.

      August 9, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      Was David Koresh a Muslim?

      August 9, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      Because as obvious as that is, it's still an opinion. The news is supposed to be factual.

      August 9, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • OJ

      Because it is not true you fool

      August 9, 2012 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. MomOf5

    It's sickening to always be reminded of how literally evil some humans can be, they're truly beyond pathetic! This is what you call a dirty, evil, radical Muslim, that is an embarrassment to Muslim faith. Monsters like this creates racism against their faith. Only when Muslims crack down on radicals will the Muslim faith be respected. Muslims cannot afford to condone insanity in the name of Mohammed, Alah or whatever they pray to.

    August 9, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tryanka Luna

      This another perfect attempt to distort Islams, Arabs, Muslims thanks to our Israeli owned and operated media in u.s.a.

      August 9, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • MomOf5

      Just wanted to add Muslims need to respect other faith groups and not consider to be infidels. Side note, other faith groups shouldn't be looked down on either. Christian, Jews, etc. in history have been just as guilty, example Crusades.

      August 9, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • NutGrinder

      Religious "faith" is an insult to the human race.... in general!

      August 9, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Tryanka Luna

    This is a cult. Has nothing to do with any religion.

    August 9, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Tedsnic

    Tartarstan??? I am pretty sure Kazan is in Tatarstan, not Tartarstan. I think CNN has it confused with tartar sauce.

    August 9, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  13. mikescouch

    Everyone I believed has missed the point. It's not they are trying to segregate underground and punish their minions, they are freaking practicing for when living under ground is necessary. Maybe they know something we don't!

    August 9, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • octopus

      yes they do, start living underground now.

      August 9, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  14. sir stephen talatu cham

    no wonder some prophet come in that way tyranicaly,terrorist and barbaricaly

    August 9, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Vic

    whos to say its really a true story.

    August 9, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
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