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. jeff

    This is why religion is obsolete....

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

      even jesus hated religion

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

    The religious nuts in this world, especially the U.S., are getting crazier by the day. We need to rid society of this dangerous vermin.

    August 9, 2012 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Free Syria now

      Don't mind rob, he really loves America.. he uses their Internet invention all the time.

      Also the kid were just being recruited to be the next Bane ... (batman reference..)

      August 9, 2012 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |

      Matthew 12
      King James Version (KJV)36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.....

      August 10, 2012 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
  3. judy

    It amazes me how God haters use every story to critize God and Christianity. This world is full of those that call themselves christians but are not. The real christians don't say they are Christian. They live the life that shows what christianity really means. A christian is one who follows Christ and would never harm anyone or put His name through the mud and would NEVER do anything that would give God haters and fools the pleasure of cursing our Creator and His Son Jesus. Psalm 14; 1 says "The fool has said in his heart, There is no God"..... So a real Christian wouldn't do anything to make people believe that. The ones that are committing all kinds of sin and atrocities are christians in name only they will have to answer for what they have done and are stil doing and i feel even sorrier for the fools who are denying what they know in their hearts is the Truth and cursing things they know nothing about. That 83 year old man if he was a prophet probably saw what this world has come to and whats coming soon and tried to keep all those people and children from being contaminated, But what is hidden will never be hidden for long.

    August 9, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • tricia

      Being a decent human being with caring, compassion and common sense has nothing to do with God or any religion. One belief in a God is no better than a belief in many Gods or No God.

      August 9, 2012 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Biff Lumpcake

      See, that is just a "no true Scotsman" logical fallacy. If they call themselves a Christian, who are you to argue? Just because they interpret your holy book differently than you do makes them somehow not Christian?

      August 10, 2012 at 12:08 am | Report abuse |
    • youidiot

      well god is just a fairy tale so there is nothing to hate. it is the whackos that believe this fairy tale and try to convince others their way is orrect that upsets people. christians are the worst. hypocritical scary people.

      August 10, 2012 at 2:57 am | Report abuse |
    • borntothebreed7

      Judy, you are a woman who is trying to teach us about Christianity. You, therefore, cannot be a Christian, because you are in direct violation of the Bible. No woman is ever allowed to teach a man. EVER. It's in the Bible, so you can't argue with it.

      DO NOT EVER SPEAK IN THE PRESENCE OF A MAN AGAIN. As a man, I have authority over you, so you have to do as I say. Otherwise, you're not a Christian.

      August 10, 2012 at 3:44 am | Report abuse |

      Its okay to be called a Christian as long as you are a disciple of CHRIST and you are filled with the same spirit that raised JESUS from the DEAD(just ask anyone who claims to be a Christian are the filled with the same spirit that raised JESUS from the dead which is the HOLY SPIRIT . Paul says i am not ashamed of the GOSPEL of JESUS CHRIST. GOD BLESS YOU

      August 10, 2012 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
  4. JEsus

    Dear Religion:

    While you were debating on which kind of chicken sandwiches to eat, I just landed on Mars.

    Your friend,


    August 9, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Free Syria now

      Let's not forget, that a majority christian nation landed on Mars. you're welcome.

      August 9, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • S

      Brilliant & hilarious.

      August 9, 2012 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eddy

      Dear Science just hoping the rover finds proof of that it was life or that it is life now on Mars.... oops.. no seven days of creation ? No Adan and Eve? no paradise? no Jesus on Mars? lol looooooots things will change...

      August 10, 2012 at 3:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Winston5

      lmao! (props, dude)

      August 10, 2012 at 3:55 am | Report abuse |
    • William

      We landed on Mars years ago.

      August 10, 2012 at 6:16 am | Report abuse |
  5. LOL @ Judy

    How can somebody be a "God Hater"? Oh, I guess it's like being a unicorn hater, a leprechaun hater or a spaghetti monster hater?

    August 9, 2012 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
  6. magneticink

    You sure that wasn't just another Russian orphanage?

    August 9, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. E

    Honestly, In my opinion why don't we just mind our own business and leave them alone. Let people live how they want to live its not bothering you or costing you a dime.

    August 9, 2012 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • William

      We are more concerned about how people live in other countries than we are concerned about how people live in the USA.

      August 10, 2012 at 6:18 am | Report abuse |
  8. HITAN ( Democracy in Heaven )

    Cadillac I hope you are not a follower of Jesus. You make a comment of Mohammed and his young bride, have you check out the age of Mary when she was married and age that Joseph was.

    August 9, 2012 at 11:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • safeson

      How old was Mary? Does the bible (any version?) say?

      Just courious

      August 10, 2012 at 12:13 am | Report abuse |
    • safeson

      (actually I'm curious - oops)

      August 10, 2012 at 12:15 am | Report abuse |
    • borntothebreed7

      Safeson, the Bible doesn't say how old Mary was. Catholics made something up centuries ago and claim it is truth (as they do with almost everything), but the Bible itself doesn't say.

      August 10, 2012 at 3:49 am | Report abuse |
  9. ajaznurse

    Living in AZ the thought of no sun seems like a dream come true!!it was 118 today!

    August 10, 2012 at 12:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Winston5

      Way to miss a point!

      August 10, 2012 at 3:57 am | Report abuse |
  10. hannsulu

    religion are truly a sect society. time for human to change their mindset and fyi we are living in the 21century and not in the medieval period.

    August 10, 2012 at 12:56 am | Report abuse |
  11. Mohammed sheidu

    I dont know, pple attribute every bad thing to islam.islam is the believe in one God,the religion of Abraham.

    August 10, 2012 at 1:08 am | Report abuse |
  12. Modus Shmodus

    *Sigh* CNN, if you're going to quote people using a term such as, "modus operandi," you could at least try to spell it correctly. Seriously.

    August 10, 2012 at 2:12 am | Report abuse |
  13. Bud Tarken

    How many thought this story was about the Mormons? Hehe, ya I did too.

    August 10, 2012 at 2:20 am | Report abuse |
    • William

      I thought this was about our government because they also have a bunker in front of their White House.

      August 10, 2012 at 6:22 am | Report abuse |
  14. SSampson

    Geez – I am an atheist, and even I know that cults and fundamentalists are about control and only use religion as a tool to grow their population....

    I DO think that religion itself is a kind of cult, but the major ones all have a basis on a failry positive moral code – a code often perverted for political reasons granted...

    Countries themselves are slightly cultist also – groups of people brought up in a belief system constantly reinforced by forms of propoganda....

    But people like this are outside all norms – they are nuts – tying them to any other social group is pure lunacy...

    August 10, 2012 at 4:01 am | Report abuse |
  15. tonyl9973

    Kids that have never seen the sun WHICH probably mean that they are totally blind?

    August 10, 2012 at 4:27 am | Report abuse |
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