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Russia doomsday cult members leave cave hideout
MOSCOW - Seven female members of a Russian cult have come out of the cave where they have been awaiting the end of the world, but 28 people are still underground, Russian media reported on Saturday.
03/29/08


The doomsday cult members have been barricaded in a cave dug out of a hillside in the Penza region of central Russia since October. They have been refusing to come out until the end of the world, which they predict will happen in May, and were reported this week to have shot at police to drive them away.

A local official said the seven women had been persuaded to come out after Pyotr Kuznetsov, the leader of their cult who is undergoing court-ordered psychiatric treatment, was brought to the scene to negotiate with them.

"Seven people have come up to the surface, all of them women," Itar-Tass news agency quoted Penza region deputy governor Oleg Melnichenko as saying. "They are all alive and well, so there is no need for medical assistance."

He said officials had agreed to let the women move from the cave to Kuznetsov's house in a nearby village.

"The women who have come out will continue their isolation until May, when supposedly the end of the world will happen. That was their condition, which we promised to respect."

The cult members started intensive negotiations with officials this week after water from the melting snow caused part of their cave to collapse.

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