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. Muhammad


    August 9, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. JG

    Sounds like Obama's new housing plan......

    August 9, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • JMM

      Great post, how clever! You think that up all by your self, or are you just regurgitating that Rush said this morning? Lol

      August 9, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ihtfpaeoh

    Hey everybody, the first Mormon troll has posted here! Yay!

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

      Who you talkin' bout willis?

      August 9, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • NutGrinder

      first Moron?.... OH wooops misread that for a sec.

      August 9, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • OJ

      It is the same

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

      No no..not 'moron'...Mormon! As in King Mormon, king of the Lamanite tribe. However, King Mormon did name his son 'Moron-i'...Moroni for short. What can ya say about a king who would curse his son with a name like that? Poor little guy. ;op

      August 11, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. umadbro?

    The leader of the sect is reportedly Fayzrahman Satarov, an 83-year-old who pronounced himself a prophet destined to direct a caliphate.

    first of all the moment someone declares they're a prophet, it immediately takes them out of Islam and are now unbelievers. Then again its CNN which can never get their facts straight, spending all that time on wikipedia.

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

      Okay I resemble that remark, on wikipedia. But I don't make stuff up like Fox news and call it truth. By the way Romneys Tax plan is mathematically impossible.

      August 9, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • For What It Is Worth

      To you perhaps. Obviously not to him. Wikipedia and CNN, for good or ill, have nothing to do with it.

      August 9, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hmmmm

      For all of you whining about this joker calling himself a prophet, lets not forget that ancient hippie who walked around with his cronies telling folks of his divinity.

      August 9, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. AlienShark

    Cadillac, it is you who have a lack of knowledge. First off, almost every biblical prophet was rejected by their own people and families. Noah was rejected by his people (and his son), Ibrahim was rejected by his people (and his father) Moses was rejected by the Egyptians (including his step-father the pharaoh) and his own people barely believed in him and continued to disobey him even after performing miracles. Jesus was rejected by his own people, and Muhammad was rejected and tortured by his own people including his own family after receiving prophethood. This is a common trait of all prophets.
    You are right that he had 9 wives throughout his life, however, before Islam men would have dozens and hundreds of wives in that part of the world and Islam limits the number to four. (which is a number Muhammad followed as well when it was revealed)
    You claim that he killed "2 entire jewish tribes including women and children" This is a complete fabrication. He ordered the execution all the men in one tribe because they were traitors and war criminals. Not only that but he did so according to Jewish law! He asked the Jewish religious leaders of the tribe what their punishment was for war traitors and they informed him it was execution, so he followed Jewish law on that, and he spared the women and children.

    You said he was a theif attacking and killing traders which is also a lie. Yes he and the Muslims fought battles with their enemies of the time, but they were battles with people that were bringing war on them, not attacks against traders! If they won the battles, they would distribute their spoils among themselves. They werent attacking peaceful traders and you cannot find any credible evidence to the contrary.
    You wrote that the Kabba has nothing to do with Islam. You should know that the prophet Ibrahim and his son Ismael is the builder of the Kabba, and he built it on the spot where Adam originally built one. Both of these are prophets in Islam. You mentioned that 360 pagan religions used to worship there every day of the year until Islam. You are correct, however Islam came to end polytheism because it is the biggest sin, so of course he forbade them from worshiping in the house that was built by monotheistic prophets.
    mentioned that the Muslims used to pray towards Jerusalem. That was the same direction that the Jews of the day used to pray to, when the order came from Gabriel (during prayer) to change the direction to the Kabba, it was symbolic that the Covenant with the Children of Israel was finished and the new covenant with MUhammad and his followers has been established.
    You mentioned Muhammad's credibility. Before his prophethood, Muhammad was known by all the people of Mecca to be the most honest and trustworthy among them. It is widely known that even the hypocrites and polytheists of Mecca believed in his prophethood, however they denied it because they felt the loss of their 'gods' would make them loose business, as different tribes would take their 'gods' to the Kabba every day and trade goods with the Quraysh. Muhammad performed miracles similar or greater to the ones performed by other prophets in the bible. Honestly, you are the one who's credibility is questionable, not Muhammad.

    August 9, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Obama Mama

    OM, don't have a God, this is horrible, and I don't care what you call it, no God would want someone to live like this.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mark

    I wouldn't put too much faith in a story about religion coming from Russia. They have a tendancy to make up horror stories like this in order to excuse religious persecution. It's possible this was a cult living underground and Russia is merely performing a humanitarian mission. It could also just be a group of Muslims with a bunker who were unfortunately interferring with Russia's oil concerns in some way.
    When Russia starts throwing around words like "Cult" then be sure to do your own research!

    August 9, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  8. AlienShark

    honestly, there is no Muslims with even a little knowledge about their own religion who would fall into this trap. Muslims know that Muhammad was the last prophet sent to mankind until judgement day, so just the fact that this clown is calling himself a prophet disqualifies everything else that might come out of his mouth. I feel bad for the ignorant people and the children that followed him.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      No offense but what Muslims believe is utter nonsense. You can't believe the bible is the word of God and then ignore everything it said in favour of another book written later by another guy. Islam is no differen't then Mormonism. There's something to be said for the bible because it covers a lot of history and was written by numerous people. It's a very amazing book historically and spiritually. The book of Mormon and the Quran were written by lone men with delusions of grandeur and their writings are extremely dated and based on the culture they lived in because they really didn't think beyond their reality. The bible is not like that.

      August 9, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Walk Among Us

      that's a very general statement. just like christians, jews, buddhists, etc.., not every muslim is the same.

      August 9, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • drinker75

      Give me a break James, your book is just as crazy as everyone else's book no matter how you try to rationalize it.

      August 9, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. adam

    Richard in Texas- It's called Rickets.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Athiest

    There is no clearer definition of evil than a religion which engages in evil practice such as honor killings......... IN THE NAME OF MAKE BELIEVE GODS.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Walk Among Us

      you're an atheist but you believe in evil? good and evil are inventions of religion.

      August 9, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Athiest 2.0

      do you know what the definition of evil is? Those honor killings are stupid but not "evil".

      August 9, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Obama Mama

    As long as your down in the coal mine, could ya maybe sleep and eat down there, it saves on bringing ya to the top. Although it isn't overtime ya hear.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. frunklin

    Just another normal day in the Soviet blo.... I mean Russia.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. hal

    Russian cult or Liberal/Progressive.....what's the difference?!

    August 9, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Brian Myers

    After rescuing the kids, leave the adults...especially the "prophet"...down below and fill the hole.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  15. McShane

    Islum is a peaceful religion –

    August 9, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • nixliberals

      Yeah, Obama is American, McDonalds is healthy eating, Oil is good for the Ocean, especially in the Arctic, Americans are overpaid and are not sheep!!

      August 9, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • wow

      We are your friends (bang bang) do not run we are your friends (bang bang)

      August 9, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • saywhat

      Nothing to do with Islam.This guy was a 'prophet' unto himself.

      August 9, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
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