“I won’t forget this hell.” What the adherents of the “forest sect” from the Volga region are talking about

MOSCOW, October 9 – Novosti, Nikita Bizin. Orthodox from the Ulyanovsk region complained to the diocese about the community of the “old man” Zosima, who preaches the rejection of civilization and calls to live in the forests. The police did not find anything illegal in his activities. However, those who have fallen under the influence of the “spiritual leader” argue that he is not what he seems. About the cult of the famous “schemetropolitan” – in the material of Novosti.

Live their own way

Two years ago, in the Staromainsky district of the Ulyanovsk region , the population increased sharply. In the area where only old people live, people reached out – whole families. Newcomers, buying land and houses for next to nothing, settled in several villages at once.
Among the new arrivals were priests. The old-timers asked the “priests” what church they were from, and they answered sharply: “Your church is wrong. But we have a new, pure Orthodox faith.” The settlers built a school and even a temple where they prayed separately.
The locals decided to ask the local diocese what kind of community it was. There they found out: the newcomers were followers of the “schemetropolitan” Zosima.
Much less is known about him than about the scandalous ex-sheigumen Sergius (Romanov) from the Sredneuralsky Monastery or the “elder” Ioannikia from the village of Chikhachevo, Ivanovo Region. The information is available mainly from the numerous videos that Zosima has been posting on YouTube since 2018.
His real name is unknown, he was born in 1982 in Kazakhstan . He served time in a juvenile detention facility. In 2017, for some time he lived with another self-consecrated – “archbishop” Sergius Ageev – in the village of Poley, Pskov region . The latter was detained in July 2020 by FSB officers on charges of “creating a religious organization whose activities are associated with violence or other harm to health.”
In 2018, Zosima moved to the Tula region , where he founded a community. In online sermons, he actively urged believers to abandon their documents, leave the blessings of civilization and, “escaping from the Antichrist”, go to the wilderness. And also – do not visit the temples of the Russian Orthodox Church . About 20 people joined the “old man”.
Meeting of the Public Chamber of the Ulyanovsk Region
Considering Zosima’s past, the Melekes diocese fears a riot of believers – as was the case in the Urals and in the Ivanovo region . The local Bishop Diodorus insisted that the issue be discussed in the regional Public Chamber. “The existence of this pseudo-religious organization,” he explained, “causes serious concern for the Russian Orthodox Church. The community seeks to divide society and conducts subversive work among the population.”
The diocese contacted the police. However, the Ministry of Internal Affairs has not yet been able to bring Zosima to justice – no offense has been found.

“For the Needs of the Suffering”

“It is not surprising that they did not find anything illegal. After all, everyone who dealt with him went to this voluntarily,” explains Svetlana (not her real name), who fell under the influence of Zosima, from the city of Trekhgorny.
“Two years ago I had a black streak: three close people died one after another,” she says. “Besides, the pandemic is in full swing. Depression began, I was looking for support. But instead of going to the doctor, I began to read dubious literature “.
She learned about the “schemetropolitan” from the Internet. I listened to his sermons – about the dangers of civilization, about how people are “chipped with the help of vaccinations”, and 5G technology “enslaves the population”.
“I was then ready to believe in anything,” says Svetlana. “Under one of the videos I found Zosima’s contacts. I decided to call.”
Bishop of Melekessky and Cherdaklinsky Diodor
She did not understand who was talking to her – the “lord” himself or one of his subordinates. The interlocutor explained: for salvation, it is necessary to give up not only the passport and bank card, but also all property.
“I asked: “Where will I put him?” At the other end of the wire they answered: “To the community – for the needs of the suffering.” I say: “Maybe I’ll leave my relatives?” It immediately fell down – they say, I’m not ready to reject everything and follow Christ “You’ll be damned. And then I was pulled like a current: I came to my senses and hung up,” recalls Svetlana.
After that, she called several more times, but she did not answer. She did not write a statement to the police, because she “turned to Zosima of her own free will.”

Dark side of the Moon

In the Tula diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church, it was confirmed that from 2018 to 2020, the “schimitropolitan” community operated in the small village of Luna, Belevsky district .
For several years now, almost no one has lived there, only occasionally summer residents come for the summer. In addition, the settlement is quite far from the nearest highway.
“That is why we did not immediately discover the sect. We suspected something was wrong only when letters from different cities began to arrive. People were looking for relatives who followed Zosima,” says Alexei Volodin, an employee of the diocesan missionary department.
© YouTube ” “– “. “
Stop-frame video of Vl. Zosima about ecumenists
Stop-frame video “Vl. Zosima on ecumenists”
After that, the local police became interested in the sect. “And we tried to explain to the believers that the ‘schemetropolitan’ is not a priest at all, but a simple impostor,” adds the representative of the diocese.
Zosima, having learned about the attention from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, soon left the region. Abandoned his flock.
“The trouble is that no one then turned to us for help. The leader actively instilled in them an aversion to the canonical church. And people, even abandoned to the mercy of fate, still never set foot in an Orthodox church. Volodin.

Small paradise

Alexander Fedorov, who lived in the Moon for four months, also spoke about the power of suggestion of the “shepherd”. “If I had stayed longer, I wouldn’t have become the same. Yes, and I got there so ridiculously,” he admits.
A few years ago I started reading on the Internet about the dangers of modern technology. At some point, it dawned on me — “but this is not fiction!”
“And as if by a click, he became like a madman. He decided to leave the world: in 2015 he lived in the taiga for several months, then he moved to a pseudo-Orthodox community in the Pskov region. There he learned about Zosima and went to him in 2019.”
The “old man” greeted all the newcomers cordially, promising heaven on earth. Every morning began with a divine service in a small wooden church. Among the icons hung a photograph of the singer Igor Talkov, they prayed to him here. (Talkov’s songs are very popular among believers. And because of his early death, many associate him with a Christian martyr.) Then – “obediences”: someone sawed firewood or carried water, someone cooked food.
© /  /  ,
Igor Talkov, singer and composer - Novosti, 1920, 07.10.2022
Igor Talkov, singer and composer
“Zosima had a grandiose project – to build his own church in the village,” explains Fedorov. “To do this, we repaired the foundation of some unfinished building. the house of a relative of his assistant – “nun” Marina.
Periodically in the mornings, she warned: “There will be no service today. It’s very hard for Batiushka—the demons kicked him all night.” After that, the shepherd did not show himself to the believers for several days. Later, the settlers realized what kind of kicks it was – this is how the “spiritual leader” called binges.
In the intervals between them, he informed his followers: “Today the Mother of God appeared: she said that I am the future king and patriarch of human salvation.” And he performed colorful rituals – for example, reprimanding the demoniac.
“Somehow a young couple arrived, pretended to be possessed. Even the video of the “exorcism” remained: both were shaking, the swearing was terrible. Zosima scolded them for two or three weeks, and then kicked them out. Apparently, he himself realized that they were mummers,” says Alexander.
Four months later, he realized that the promised paradise turned into a real hell. The joint life did not go well – the inhabitants constantly cursed among themselves. “And again, as if by a click, it dawned on me: I am spiritually saved here, and my elderly parents are unattended. I firmly decided: I will get out.”
One of the members of the community said that the “elder” lets go if he is properly angered. This is exactly what Alexander did.
© YouTube ” “– “. “
Stop-frame video of Vl. Zosima about ecumenists
Stop-frame video “Vl. Zosima on ecumenists”
“I had some alcohol with me,” he recalls.
Fedorov tries as little as possible to remember the experience. But he admits that it does not go away from memory – “too traumatic experience.” And there are dozens, if not hundreds, of people like Alexander all over the country.
Novosti correspondent tried to contact Zosima. One of his representatives did not answer questions in the correspondence – he only sent several videos with the sermons of the “old man”.
Night service in the Church of the Tsar Martyr Nicholas in Chikhachevo - Novosti, 1920, 03.11.2020
“We are the last stronghold of Russia!” What is hidden by the sect of the elder Ioannikius
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