There is a modern movement in southern Siberia, circulating around one man, Vissarion, who claims to be the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. I know that we’ve heard this story before. Some wacko claims to be the messiah and a group of zombies quickly take up with him and create their own movement off in the woods. Well this is beginning to amass quite the turnout. And it already is breading cult-like qualities.
Rocco Castoro, a correspondent with Vice, has gone on location in Southern Siberia to track down this Vissarion fellow and get a taste of the lifestyle of those living amongst the movement. They have created a 3 part mini documentary series beginning with Rocco’s stay in Petropavlovka, a small settlement about 100 miles away from the nearest city. The small back water village is home to followers of the Church of the Last Testament, Vissarion’s creation. The environment and ways of living are simple yet idyllic, until Rocco begins interviewing locals and we find that there (in most cults) is a clear distinction between the spheres of men and women and their respective duties. Men are taught “masculine responsibilities” like operating power tools, women are taught to be dutiful to their husbands. Awesome, red flag number 1! Oh, did I mention that Vessarion and his followers also believe in UFOs and that suicide is good. Red flag # 2!
The second and third videos document Rocco’s pilgrimage to see Vessarion speak before his congregation. He befriends a like-minded skeptic from Poland and together they turn over their passports to “authorities” and become immersed within the movement. It’s actually quite scary to watch them because at any moment you think this will turn into the next Jonestown with everyone slugging down the koolaid except for Vessarion himself. They do survive and end up hiking to the top a mountain to witness Vessarion speak. The “messiah” slowly, creepily, and in true Jesus fashion glides down to his congregation. Rocco’s cameraman is ordered to stop filming so we never get a true sense of Vessarion’s words. However, the next day Rocco lands an interview with Vessarion. Jesus part deux manages to beat around the burning bush as if he were Palin in an 08 interview, saying nothing while saying everything. And by the end of the series our once curious and borderline convert Rocco is ready to get the hell out of the area and back to New York.
Watch the interesting series here and get a glimpse of the 21st century’s newest cult.