A notorious cult leader known for extreme abuse and extravagant displays of wealth.
God Kuzya, also known as Andrey Popov, was the head of a radical cult in Russia, notorious for his abusive practices and lavish lifestyle. Born visually impaired, Popov adopted the moniker ‘God Kuzya’ after his deceased parrot and claimed to have created Christ, asserting he had surpassed Christ’s deeds.
Background and Claims
God Kuzya’s real name is Andrey Popov. He was 38 years old at the time of his arrest. Popov had multiple religious personas, including claims of being the reincarnation of Jesus Christ, Russian saint Sergey Radonezhsky, 19th-century occultist Yelena Blavatskaya, and the Archangel Gabriel. His radical claims included statements like “I was God who created Christ.”
Cult Activities and Abuse
Popov led a cult that practiced extreme forms of physical abuse. He reportedly whipped and tortured his followers, punishing them for minor offenses such as communicating with the outside world, taking medicine, or contacting relatives. During these sessions, he was known to shout phrases like “Cool, cool!” and dismiss concerns about fainting or weakness as failures of the body, not the spirit.
The cult had a strict hierarchy consisting of six “circles.” The innermost circle comprised his wives, followed by a harem, close followers, other followers (with women aspiring to join the harem), those unaware of Popov’s supposed godlike nature, and finally those he cast away, labeled as “demons” or “cucumbers.”
Financial Exploitation and Opulence
Popov was known for his extravagant lifestyle, including baths filled with banknotes prepared by his followers. The cult’s income sources included fraudulent activities like selling apartments and collecting donations for non-existent religious services at Orthodox fairs. This deceit was part of a broader strategy to amass wealth, with followers encouraged to give their property and possessions to Popov.
Legal Actions and Arrest
Russian police arrested Popov and found significant amounts of cash in his apartments, totaling around $4 million. The searches also uncovered child pornography and rare animals, including a crocodile, an armadillo, and an echidna. The cult was compared to infamous groups like Aum Shinrikyo, known for the Tokyo sarin attack.