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At least 30 members of a Russian doomsday cult have barricaded themselves in a remote cave to await the end of the world and are threatening to commit suicide if police intervene, officials and media said on Thursday.
"They have covered the entrance and refuse to come out and are threatening to blow themselves up," an official in the local prosecutor's office told Reuters by telephone. "They threaten to detonate a gas tank and blow themselves up."
Mr Kuznetsov is a trained engineer from a deeply religious family, who declared himself a prophet several years ago, left his family and began writing books and recruiting followers. His group believe that, in the afterlife, they will judge whether others deserve heaven or hell. Followers are not allowed to watch television, listen to the radio or handle money.
The Kommersant newspaper quoted a policeman as saying the shots were fired after he had tried to help cave dwellers who said melt water had dislodged earth in the caves and they were afraid of being buried alive.