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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soundoff (230 Responses)
  1. guest

    no real muslim with minimum knowledge will fall into this sect. There is no prophets after prophet Mohammed PBU he is the seal of the prophets. But this kind of things happens when there is lack of knowledge.

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

      The whole religion exists because of a lack of knowledge.

      August 9, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • you are dumb

      Religion happens when there is a lack of knowledge...

      August 9, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cadillac

      Lack of knowledge? Did you know that mohammed was 53 when he married a 9 yr old girl? Did you know that he was kicked out of Mecca by his own family (why?). Did you know that he had 9 wives but could only find it in his heart to allow his follwoers 4 wives if he can afford the chattle? Did you know that he was one of the first to excile and genocide jews, excilng 2 jewish tribes and murdering every man women and child of the third? Did you know that he was a thief regularly attacking, killing and stealing from traders from Mecca? Did you know that the Kabal has nothing to do with islam, but was there for 1000 yrs before used like the greeks did the Olympics having a truce and week of peace while the 360 pagan religions came to worship at mecca so the pilgrimage and mecca itself have nothing to do with islam (in fact in the beginning his cult followers bowed to Jeruselum. The only reason for bowing to Jeruselum was because of a dream he had meeting Jesus, God and Abraham which he used as a means to give credibility to his cult which only had about 100 members at the time... without that dream he would have no credibility was a tool to add followers and give his version of the one good more listeners. Did you know that Sharia LAw is not in the Koran, was made up my man about 200 yrs after the death of the world's most famous cult leader.

      Islam is a lie built on lies... its all a cult.

      August 9, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adrienne

      guest said, "no real muslim with minimum knowledge will fall into this sect."

      This seems to be the "No True Scotsman" argument. I could say that no true Christian would stay a member of a family group and keep their money in a bank, because Jesus said to leave your family and abandon your wealth and follow him. I would bet there would be several million Christians who would argue that they really are Christians, even though they don't follow ALL the rules.

      August 9, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dr. Sam Loomis

      Islam happens where there is lack of knowledge.

      August 9, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zakee Abdul-Hameed

      I agree with you whole-heartedly, Guest. Many younger Muslims are deliberately kept ignorant of the fundamental tenets of the faith only to be taken advantage of physically, mentally spiritually as well as morally. I'm glad that they were finally rescused from the hell they were living –no, existing in!

      August 9, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gecko

      Guest, most muslims fail to notice many quotes like the following in the Qu'ran; please think it over:

      "None knoweth the interpretation thereof but God and they that are well-grounded in knowledge."[1 ]And when He Who is well-grounded in all knowledge, He Who is the Mother, the Soul, the Secret, and the Essence thereof, revealeth that which is the least contrary to their desire, they bitterly oppose Him and shamelessly deny Him. These thou hast already heard and witnessed. Such deeds and words have been solely instigated by leaders of religion, they that worship no God but their own desire, who bear allegiance to naught but gold, who are wrapt in the densest veils of learning, and who, enmeshed by its obscurities, are lost in the wilds of error. Even as the Lord of being hath explicitly declared: "What thinkest thou? He who hath made a God of his passions, and whom God causeth to err through a knowledge, and whose ears and whose heart He hath sealed up, and over whose sight He hath cast a veil - who, after his rejection by God, shall guide such a one? Will ye not then be warned?"[2]
      [1 Qur'án 3:7.]
      [2 Qur'án 45:22.]

      August 9, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • fritz

      Behead any westerners lately? If so, please post it. I'd like to add it to my extensive collection of 'Muslims beheading westerners' videos. I view them to always remind me what kinds of two legged animals we have on this world.

      August 11, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. doubledees

    Fayzrahman Satarov, the 83-year-old a prophet who rules this "cave" is a Muslim pedophile...............

    August 9, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Cadillac

    Islamic cult... finally people are getting it, its all a cult...

    August 9, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • ihtfpaeoh

      Well if Islam is a cult, then so are all religions. They are all just as crazy in their own special way.

      August 9, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rebbeca

      Most religions are cults if not all.

      August 9, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • istenno

      all religions are cults. period.

      August 9, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jasseta

    Tatarstan*, not Tartarstan.

    August 9, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • fritz

      The country should be renamed 'Tatartots'.

      August 11, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  5. jms58

    That is where this country is headed.

    August 9, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • NutGrinder

      Pfft, USA is already there, the entire country is controlled and manipulated by the religious right. I'm so sick of these people saying "have a blessed day".... it so insulting.

      August 9, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Roma

      What country and where?

      August 11, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. cheddarwizard

    I'd like to see a quick follow-up story–the account of the reactions of the kids upon their first view of the outside world. Were they afraid? Were they delighted? Can you imagine feeling the wind for the first time at 19 years old? They're experiencing something right now that we happy many can't imagine.

    August 9, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jesse Pinkman

    Muslims are barbarians. They are the worst inhabitants of the earth. The word "Islam" translates to the english language as the word "Submit". Islam really isn't a religion at all but really just a set of rules that one must follow. Islam is not a peaceful "religion". They are also encouraged by their holy book or "Qu'ran to lie to non-muslims or as they call them "infidels". They lie because they look down at non-muslims and feel they owe them no respect whatsoever. So when a muslim speaks to the rest of the world, there is a good chance they are telling lies. A "religion" where the followers are encouraged to lie to and even kill the "non-believers" is seriously evil. The non muslims of the world need to educate themselves on who these vile people really are. There is a reason they live in the oldest region of the world but yet they have never been able to live in peace. They should be further ahead considering the age of their countries. USA is only 236 years old and look how much further ahead they are than the middle eastern countries that are thousands of years old. These countries barely have any technology advancements unless it is imported from a modern country. They are still living in the stone age. Do not ignore the pattern here.

    August 9, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • quirkmaguirk

      The USA still has a problem with religion, just of a different breed. I would say xtians are just as bad as any other cult.

      August 9, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Booperguy

      You are absolutely correct. Google "Eid al Adha" or "Day of Slaughter"...there you will find their true, innermost nature of blood thirsty barbarians. They kills tens of millions of animals on this "holy" day by slitting the animals' throats fully conscious. It is sickening. They stand around with eyes wide, smiles on their faces, mouths agape in joy while the animals suffers a cruel death. It is a perversion of the Old Testament, for they claim that "Ishmael was to be sacrificed by Abraham, not Isaac, forefather of the Jews. Absolute perversion of God's history.

      August 9, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Oh

      Jesse, your description of Muslims and Islam pretty much describes all religions and followers at one time or another.

      August 9, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  8. MarlboroMan

    Another great reality show in the making.

    August 9, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. mr dickington

    Islam is all about 'a lack of knowledge' ..... they think they are the only ones on the planet.....they are dopes and dumb-bells!

    August 9, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Sophist

    Plato's Allegory of the Cave in real life...

    August 9, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • guest

      Plato's allegory in real life indeed

      September 7, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Probstan

    Says 70 people underground of an Islamic Sect. The Islamic Extremists are attracted to Moscow for Oil Boom potential profit. These 70 folks, this small cult, so what if they want to raise children under ground.

    August 9, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ted

    Poor guys. A decade underground. I bet they didnt know what to think when finally seeing the sky. Hope they will be ok.

    August 9, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bella

      I hope so too, these kids had no choice where they were living. I hope they get the counseling they need.

      August 9, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. eli

    This is what happens when you follow man and not the one above.

    August 9, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Oh

      Above what Eli?

      August 9, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  14. John

    I have been in my apartment with all the blinds shut for a whole week. Did not bother me at all. Stop the complaining

    August 9, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Richard in Texas

    This is a horrible story. However a great learning event for science to see how the body reacts to have never been exposed to the sun.

    August 9, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheHillsHaveEyes

      I agree, this is an amazing opportunity for science. With that said, those poor children! I wonder if they will have to slowly adapt to experiencing sunlight... varying grades of protective eyewear and skin covering perhaps?

      August 9, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dant

      As a scientist: NO this is not an opportunity! Science doesn't really work that way! Experiments need to be setup with controls and carefully monitored. I also find it unlikely that as scientist would use data that came from a human rights abuse. Lots of bad-guy data from WWII was never looked at.

      August 9, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • UHhello

      Im glad along with your pity/empathy you still have room for the compassion to exploit these children for research after they have been abused. Decent people do not use this situation for study, they may set it up themselves under controlled conditions to be able to monitor the results progressively with multiple test groups. They would never step in the middle of something that had no controlls and only hersey to make their assumptions on.

      August 9, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
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