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A court in Russia's Penza Region found two foreign members
A court in Russia's Penza Region found two foreign members of a local doomsday cult guilty of violating migration laws, and ordered their deportation, the local justice department said.

The two women from Belarus and Ukraine, along with three children, had travelled to the Penza Region in order to seal themselves in a cave with a group of cult followers, but arrived too late. The group has now been underground for over a month, awaiting the end of the world, which they believe is due in May 2008.

"Three days after their arrival they had not registered with migration authorities, and thus violated the regime of foreign citizens' residence in Russia," justice department spokeswoman Marina Shcheglova said.

The court also ordered that the two women pay a fine of 2,000 rubles ($82).

The spokeswoman said the defendants pleaded guilty, but explained that they did not register as this would have contradicted their religious beliefs.

The two women had no documents, as their religion says that passports, personal numbers and barcodes contain the number of the Beast. One of them burned her passport on arrival in the Penza Region, the other burned hers in 2004. She had traveled to Russia using another person's documents.

Russian media reported the women had already left Russia.

About 30 members of the sect, which calls itself "The True Russian Orthodox Church," remain underground as efforts continue to persuade them to come to the surface. The group leader, Pyotr Kuznetsov, is currently being held in a psychiatric hospital, and a criminal case has been launched against him.


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