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Russian police have raided 25 premises in Moscow and St Petersburg linked to the Japanese Aum Shinrikyo cult. The banned cult was responsible for a deadly sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995, which killed 13 people and injured 5,000. Ten people were detained in the St Petersburg raids, Itar-Tass news agency says. And 44 Russians expelled from Montenegro are under investigation. Aum leader Shoko Asahara and 12 other cultists got death sentences in Japan. The Russian raids targeted the homes and places of worship of suspected Aum cultists. Russian prosecutors say the cult has been pressurising people for donations. They suspect it has up to 30,000 followers in Russia. Aum Shinrikyo began as a spiritual group mixing Hindu and Buddhist beliefs but became a paranoid doomsday cult obsessed with Armageddon.
Followers of the cult, then and now, worship Shoko Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto. He is currently on death row awaiting the outcome of appeals on multiple convictions related to the 1995 attacks, but the faithful see him as a Christ-like figure. The fact that those in Montenegro were worshiping a man who orchestrated what he hoped would be an apocalyptic incident might indicate that they agree with his philosophy—the fact that they were holding their meeting on the anniversary of the Tokyo attack would appear even more incriminating.
The Russian raids targeted the homes and places of worship of suspected Aum cultists. Russian prosecutors say the cult has been pressurising people for donations. They suspect it has up to 30,000 followers in Russia.
The religious group Aleph made a fresh start in February, 2000 after dissolving Aum Shinrikyo, its predecessor. Reflecting deeply on what its predecessor did in the past, Aleph started to make apologies and compensation to the victims and bereaved families. Since then, from time to time, Aleph has expressed its comments on the past incidents as well as apologies to the victims and bereaved families.