Four members of a reclusive Muslim sect in the Russian region of Tatarstan have been charged with cruelty against children for allegedly keeping them underground.
The discovery was made indirectly, when police were investigating the murder of a Muslim cleric that occurred last month. Part of the investigation involved searching homes and that is when they came across the children. They had not seen daylight in their lives.
Police found 27 children and 38 adults living in catacomb-like cells, dug on eight levels under the home of the sect's founder. It is not clear how long the children were kept underground. Their ages ranged between 1 and 17.
The founder, 83-year-old Faizrakhman Sattarov claims that he is a Muslim prophet and does not recognize Russian laws. He claims that the building that the sect was living in is an independent Islamic state.
Eleven of the children have been taken away and checked by authorities. Doctors say that they are in good health, although they arrived dirty. The children had obviously not gone to school.
The building was a three-story building, but members had dug down about eight levels, where people were living underground.
The leader of the sect is likely to be charged with negligence and the parents are likely to be charged with child abuse.
According to Russia Today, it appears that the adults who belonged to the sect voluntarily did so. Those who were not charged with a crime appear to continue to live in the facility. Police say that they found that the building is illegal so they will demolish it. There is likely to be a confrontation — although in this particular instance, there was no violence when the children were removed.