07:26 GMT25 February 2020
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    The head of the religious sect Ashram Shambala has been arrested in the West Siberian city of Novosibirsk, the NTV channel said on Tuesday.

    The head of the religious sect Ashram Shambala has been arrested in the West Siberian city of Novosibirsk, the NTV channel said on Tuesday.

    Nikolai Rudnev, 43, who reportedly calls himself "a being from Sirius", was arrested on rape charges after two former female members of the cult testified against him.

    He has also been charged with forming a sect and violating the human rights of his followers.

    Ashram Shambala is a mix of Buddhism, Shamanism, occultism and Christianity. It recruited mainly women, who gave all their money to the guru, cut contacts with relatives and moved to an isolated area to be closer to Rudnev, NTV said.

    Police said that in 1999 the sect had several regional branches across Russia and about 10,000 followers. The current number of its members is unknown.

    An expert on sects from Alexander Nevsky's Novosibirsk cathedral, Oleg Zayev, says the arrest of the leader would not mean the destruction of Ashram Shambala.

    "These destructive cults can be compared with an epidemic," Zayev said.

     

    MOSCOW, October 6 (RIA Novosti)

     

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