White Brotherhood (Ukraine)

An apocalyptic cult from Ukraine, notorious for its dramatic end-of-the-world predictions and extreme practices.

The White Brotherhood, also known as the Great White Brotherhood, was a religious movement that emerged in Ukraine and Russia, gaining significant attention in the early 1990s. The cult was led by Maria Devi (formerly a Komsomol leader) and Yuri Krivonogov.

Background and Formation

The White Brotherhood was founded in Ukraine in the early 1990s, at a time of significant political and social upheaval in the region. The leaders, Maria Devi and Yuri Krivonogov, attracted followers from across Russia and Ukraine, including remote areas like Siberia.

Beliefs and Teachings

The cult’s beliefs were a mix of apocalyptic Christianity and new religious movement teachings. Central to their doctrine was the prediction of the end of the world, which they claimed would occur on November 14, 1993. Maria Devi was reportedly prepared to enact a ritual crucifixion and resurrection in Kiev as part of the apocalyptic event.

The White Brotherhood teachings also included elements of traditional Slavic spirituality and theosophical ideas, which appealed to a broad segment of the population in Russia and Ukraine. They claimed connections to the teachings of Nicholas Roerich and his wife, Helena Roerich, and professed a unification of all religions.

Activities and Impact

  • Provocation and Disruption: The cult was known for its provocative actions, including interrupting Orthodox services and urging churchgoers to embrace Maria Devi as a god.
  • Family Separation: Many of the cult’s followers abandoned their homes and families, leading to distress among relatives and appeals to authorities for intervention.
  • Public Fear and Government Response: As the predicted date of the apocalypse approached, rumors of terrorism and mass suicide spread, causing widespread public fear. In response, Ukrainian authorities detained and arrested hundreds of followers.

Comparison with Other Cults

The White Brotherhood drew parallels with other extremist cults like the Branch Davidians in the United States. Both groups demonstrated a mix of popular culture with a drive for separation and had significant impacts on their respective societies.