Deep in Siberia’s Taiga forest lives a man who claims he is the reincarnation of Jesus. He dresses like Jesus, looks like Jesus – the western version, and has a following like Jesus… but he’s a cult leader.
He’s known as “the Teacher” to his 5,000 followers, who have given him everything. But it’s not enough. And now he warns the masses of a devastating future whispered to him by the voice of God.
Russian cult leader Sergei Torop, aka Vissarion or “the Teacher”, worked as a night shift traffic cop before he got fired in 1989 at which time the Soviet regime was already beginning to collapse.
In 1991, when the Soviet Union crumbled, Torop walked out into the city square and proclaimed that he was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ.
At the time, the Russian people were riddled with fear and worry about their future and the future of their nation. Many people rejected Vissarion straight away but others were desperate for something to believe in.
Their uncertainty and fear allowed ‘Vissarion’ and his ‘Church of the Last Testament’ to emerge to them as figures of benevolence and hope.
Torop named himself Vissarion, which roughly translates to “he who gives new life”. He lets his hair grow and wears simple robe-like clothes. He’s made himself look like the West’s revisionist version of Jesus – matching his narrative completely.
At first, the authorities didn’t have much interest in Torop but as his followers grew, so did his rules and bold predictions. He became creepy and dangerous.
Torop’s followers, who are only about 5,000 people, adhere to a certain set of beliefs that seem part theistic and part science fiction. Torop has written a bible, and it includes his radical beliefs.
These are some of the beliefs they share: suicide is aye-okay, money will get you nowhere – only old world trade will, and the world was formed by two separate big bangs. But that’s not all…
They believe that the natural world was created from one catalyst, while the human soul arose from something else – something like God. But Torop’s explanation of this theory remain vague, especially on the specifics.
They also believe in something called the “outer space mind” which is some sort of extraterrestrial presence, but again, Torop’s further explanation on this is vague. “The outer space mind does not have a soul,” he once said. “Technological progress for them is a natural form of development.”
Torop’s followers are like any other cult followers. They worship him. They even uprooted from their homes and moved to a remote forest in Siberia to be with him, hanging a picture of him in their homes to worship every day.
They also must live a vegan lifestyle and are not allowed to smoke or drink. In fact, all of their living situations is quite bleak…besides Torop’s.
His followers live in an area of the Siberian forest, which he’s named Sun City but there’s nothing sunny about it.
Torop lives in a comfortable chalet while his followers live in small wooden huts in one of Russia’s coldest regions where the temperature drops to minus 50C in winter. There’s no Christmas, instead, Torop’s birthday is their most holy day. But that’s not the least of it.
Torop’s rules allow men to marry more than one wife so they can have more children, thereby boosting the cult’s numbers. However, if a male wants to take on a second wife, he needs to first get permission from the first wife. Only then can they all live together in a big, happy family under one small, cold wooden hut.
Torop himself fathered six children with two wives, though he “rejected” his first wife for an unknown reason. But after hearing the story of how his second wife came to be, it’s not hard to imagine why…
Torop’s second wife started living with him when she was only 7 years old. They married when she was 19.
For the most part, the authorities were keeping a close but distant eye on him. But after hearing rumors that the only way Torop could afford to live in such a nice chalet was by scamming his followers, the authorities became on high alert. Then it went from bad to worse.
Many believed Torop was making his followers sell all of their belongings and giving him the profits, all under the guise of his sacred divine guidance.
But it was his prediction about the near future that began to draw widespread attention to himself and his cult. His vague ideology about aliens wasn’t half as alarming as his next belief that shut his whole operation down.
A core belief of Torop’s cult and his main teaching was that the end was coming. He frequently makes notes within his bible referencing the doomsday coming for his followers, which he suggested may happen in 2022.
It’s a teaching which rarely ends well for cult members and that’s when the authorities intervened.
Torop states that the end of the world is caused by an apocalyptic flood and that it’s imminent. According to his theory, when the flood destroys the earth, only the people who are living with him on his Siberian compound will survive.
After the flood recedes, Torop’s cult will repopulate the Earth and turn it into paradise. But there’s a catch.
Only those who strictly follow his every proclamation well will ensure their elite spot in preparation for the end of the world.
But before such strict adherence to his rules could continue, there was an unexpected scene at Sun City. A large military-style operation with helicopters and armed troops stormed the remote compound.
Torop left on the helicopter, led out by the authorities who had him in handcuffs. He now sits behind a jail cell waiting to be tried before the Investigation Committee.
He has said he will never stop doing what God sent him on the earth to do; to teach mankind about the evils of war and the havoc we’re doing to our environment. But he might not have a choice.