In March, 1997, Russian police announced that they were searching for the ringleaders of a Satanic cult in western Siberia. The cult is believed to be from the city of Tyumen, 1,400 miles east of Moscow, where five young people have been found hanged to death in what, at first, authorities though were suicides. Later, the discovery of cabalistic jottings in the belongins of the dead youths revealed their involvement in a seven-stage initiation ceremony that culminated in ritual suffocation.
The first death occurred in April,1996. Denis Abramov, 19, was found hanged in his room at home in the village of Roshchino. In May Dima Bronnikov, 17, and in July, Stas Buslov were found hanged from a tree. Three days later his friend Sergei Sidorov, 18, hanged himself at home. So did Tanya Stankeyeva, 22, in October. All the victims were friends and used to meet in a basement, which was equipped with a kind of Satanic altar and had walls painted with diabolical signs and cryptic symbols.
The mother of Sergei Sidorov said her son admitted to her shortly before his death that he was involved in a cult. "Mama, I'm a Satanist. I know it is bad, but I cannot escape. They are terribly strong." Mr. Buslov, the father of one of the victims, discovered that 36 young people between the ages of 12 and 22 have hanged themselves in Tyumen province in the past year. While there is no known connection to any cult, the high number of deaths have shaken the whole of western Siberia. A spokesman for the provincial prosecutor's office said: "We may be dealing with a serial killing, though it is not clear if this is murder or incitement to suicide."
The leader of the cult is said to be a man in his 40s, who, helped by two younger acolytes, exerted enormous influence on naive provincial children. But, thanks to the "Russianness" of the police, there seems little chance of catching those responsible.