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Muslim Sect Leader Kept Kids in Bunker for Decade, Russia Says

The leader of a Muslim sect in Russia faces prosecution for keeping dozens of followers, including children, living in an underground bunker for about a decade, according to state media.

Faizrakhman Satarov, 83, faces a maximum of six months in prison for violating local building regulations, Irina Petrova, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office in the city of Kazan, the capital of central Russia’s Muslim-majority republic of Tatarstan, said by phone today.

At least three cult members also face criminal charges for parental negligence, she said. Twenty children were in the sect, including 12 of pre-school age, and will be kept away from their parents while authorities decide whether to put them into foster care, according to the prosecutor’s office. The children were denied medical care and schooling, Petrova said.

About 70 people lived in the bunker without any natural light or heating, state news service RIA Novosti said. The crackdown on the sect follows a car blast in Kazan last month that injured the top cleric in Tatarstan and the shooting dead of his deputy.

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