SERGEI Torop was a traffic cop in the small Russian town of Minusinsk until 1989, when he announced that he was the Son of God. Now he commands a following of thousands in the Siberian mountains.
"It's all very complicated," he starts quietly, his long brown hair framing a beatific smile. "But to keep things simple, yes, I am Jesus Christ. That which was promised must come to pass."
Meet the Messiah of Siberia, Vissarion Christ — the Teacher, as he is known to his thousands of disciples, who are convinced he is the reincarnation of Jesus of Nazareth, come back to save the world.
"Life is so hard here," says Denis, a 21-year-old Russian emigre who arrived from Brisbane to see if Vissarion really was the answer to his questions. "No doubt about it, mate," he affirms. "Definitely the Son of God."
But to his critics in the established churches who accuse him of brainwashing and defrauding his followers, Vissarion is a charlatan deluding the devotees of "a destructive, totalitarian sect".
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