×
Enjoying ad-free content?
Since July 1, 2024, we have disabled all ads to improve your reading experience.
This commitment costs us $10,000 a month. Your support can help us fill the gap.
Support us
Our journalism is banned in Russia. We need your help to keep providing you with the truth.

'Alien' Cult Leader Held on Sex Charges

A self-proclaimed alien from the star Sirius has been arrested in Novosibirsk on charges of organizing a nationwide totalitarian sect that brainwashed and sexually abused members, police said Tuesday.

A local court on Saturday approved the arrest of Konstantin Rudnev, 43, leader of the Ashram Shambala religious group, a Novosibirsk police spokeswoman said by phone.

Rudnev was detained in a cottage owned by the group in Novosibirsk on Sept. 30 along with 38 followers, all citizens of Russia and Ukraine. Among them were four teenage girls whose parents had reported them as missing, police said in a statement.

A package containing 4 grams of heroin was found in the pocket of Rudnev's shirt, the statement said.

Ashram Shambala, established more than 20 years ago, grew into a powerful cult with branches in many cities across Russia in the late 1990s, the local branch of the Investigative Committee said in a statement posted on its web site Tuesday.

Rudnev, who claimed to be an alien sent to Earth to enlighten mankind, combined Oriental esoterica and the writings of Carlos Castaneda with elements of yoga and shamanism in his teaching, investigators said. The group also offered yoga courses and self-help camps that attracted thousands of people.

Most of the group's members were young people aged 17 to 30 who were forced to leave home, friends and families under psychological and emotional pressure, investigators said.

Members were forced to turn over their property to Rudnev, and young female members had to participate in regular sexual orgies with him and other senior members, investigators said.

Law enforcement officers have spent 11 years attempting to bring Rudnev to court, but the previous three cases opened against him — in 1999, 2004 and 2008 — were closed because Ashram Shambala members refused to testify.

If convicted on charges of rape, sexual abuse and human rights violations, Rudnev faces up to 15 years in prison. Police are still considering whether to add heroin charges to the list.

… we have a small favor to ask. As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just $2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.

Once
Monthly
Annual
Continue
paiment methods
Not ready to support today?
Remind me later.

Read more