MOSCOW – Local Russian authorities have uncovered a cell of the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult in central Moscow, according to media reports.
The authorities are investigating the group under the suspicion that it “created an organization that infringes on citizens’ rights.”
The cult, which originated in Japan, is banned in Russia. But thousands of people there are said to be followers or have fallen victim to the group.
Aum members held meetings three days a week at a facility near the Kremlin where they prayed, conducted yoga training and took part in other activities, according to local media.
The cult’s practice of abstaining from food and sleep at the facility purportedly led to a situation in which an ambulance was called.
The cult began to spread in Russia in the early 1990s. The number of its followers in the country is believed to have exceeded 30,000 at its peak.
In 2000, a Russian follower was arrested for plotting a bomb attack in Japan to rescue Shoko Asahara, the Aum guru currently on death row, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto.