A reclusive sect that literally went underground to stop contact with the outside world kept 27 children in dark and unheated cells,many of them for more than a decade,prosecutors said Wednesday. The children have been freed and the parents charged with child abuse.
Some of the children,aged between 1 and 17,have never seen daylight,health officials said. The sects 83-year-old founder Faizrakhman Satarov,who declared himself a Muslim prophet in contradiction with the principles of Islam,has also been charged with negligence,Irina Petrova,deputy prosecutor in the provincial capital of Kazan,said. No members of the sect,who call themselves muammin or believers, have been arrested,she said.
The children were discovered last week when police searched the sect grounds as part of a probe into the recent killing of a top Tatarstan Muslim cleric.
Satarov declared his house outside Kazan an independent Islamic state. He ordered some 70 followers to live in cells they dug under the three-storey building topped by a small minaret with a tin crescent moon. Only a few sect members were allowed to leave the premises to work as traders at a local market,Russian media reported.