Russian sect locked children in cellars

Aug. 8, 2012 at 7:45 PM

KAZAN, Russia, Aug. 8 (UPI) -- Members of a Russian sect who kept their children shut up in windowless cellars will need lengthy treatment, a child advocate said Wednesday.

Members of the Faizrakhmanist group are charged with child neglect, RIA Novosti reported. The group's leader and founder, Faizrakhman Sattarov, 83, is charged with "taking the law into his own hands," a prosecutor in the Republic of Tatarstan in south-central Russia said.

Sattarov, formerly a Muslim mufti, started the group about 40 years ago. His followers lived in his home or in a network of windowless cells dug underneath it.

When the compound was raided Aug. 1, investigators found 70 adults and about 25 children on the premises. The children are now in orphanages.

Pavel Astakhov, Russia's presidential children's ombudsman, said reunification of the families will be delayed.

"Unfortunately the victims of the sect will need professional rehabilitation over a fairly long period," Astakhov said.

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