Jesus of Siberia: The Russian ex-traffic policeman who claims he is the son of God

The beard and long hair are both present and correct. And with his flowing linen robes and beatific smile he certainly does a fine impression of a holy man. But to his believers in this remote corner of Siberia, Sergei Torop, a former traffic policeman, is the literal reincarnation of none other than Jesus Christ. Torop, 48, is the spiritual leader of at least 5,000 devoted followers, among them intellectuals, artists and professionals who flock to worship him in the small isolated village of Petropavlovka - more than 2000 miles from Moscow.

Torop was ‘reborn’ as ‘Vissarion’ in 1991 just as Russia was facing a crisis of confidence following the collapse of the iron curtain. He is just the latest example of Russia’s reoccurring fondness with the cult of the personality in a national obsession that leads back all the way to Rasputin. Both Lenin and Stalin tapped into the Russian people’s eagerness to embrace powerful figures and actively fostered the almost religious fervour with which they were worshipped. After time spent in the Army, Torop had been working as a traffic policeman on the night shift in the small Siberia town of Minusinsk until he was made unemployed. Suddenly something ‘awoke’ inside him, he says, and he instantly knew that he was the second coming of Christ - 2,000 years after he was first crucified.

He says he realised that God had sent him to Earth to teach mankind about the evils of war and the havoc we were wreaking on the environment. With Christmas abolished his followers mark the day of his first sermon on August 18 as their special feast day. Time in the community is measured by Vissarion’s life and so as he is 48 years old his Church is now living in year 49. His followers, who have given up their lives to follow him, are strict vegans and are banned from smoking and drinking or handling money. Around 300 of them live in wooden huts in the village that has grown up around his church and which does not appear on any maps. Many thousands more have made their homes in the small villages that surround Petropavlovka and survive the vicious Siberian winters so that they can be close to their Messiah.

On a mountain close by their village a large bell tolls three times a day so the followers know when they should break off from their back-breaking work to kneel and pray. Vissarion himself whiles away his days painting in his chalet where he lives with his wife and six children - one of whom he adopted from a single mother in the commune. But critics in Russia have accused him of fleecing his loyal community of followers for personal gain. In recent years he has travelled to France, Italy and Holland to ‘convert’ new followers although he claims that his visits were sponsored by his hosts and that his Church makes no money.

Read more:

Mark Chapter 13 applies here, particularly Mark 13:21 and Mark 13:26

Mark 13:21 “And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; lo, he is here: do not believe.”

Mark 13:26 “And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds, with great power and glory.”

Satan will always set his snares. Sometimes he sets the bar quite high (in trying to convince this man he is Jesus). And it’s sad how often Satan is successful and man embraces with his own free will the wide path leading to Satan. So prideful and deluded is modern man. . .

I was with a teaching team in Russia and Ukraine in 1991, and we went to Cherkassy, where an alternative healing conference was taking place. There were all sorts of theorists there, some with aluminum foil on their heads or divining rods. All were deadly serious about what they believed. There was newness in the air with glasnost. I offered to speak to the group and was accepted. With my translator, I told them about the Báb & Bahá’u’lláh. Russians had known about the Movement from its inception; Tolstoy studied and wrote warmly of it in the first years of the 20th century; but the word had not got around much. Within three days, enough Bahá’ís were raised up in Cherkassy to form the nine-member Local Spiritual Assembly.

I wouldn’t call this guy a false Christ, I’d just call him very disturbed or confused.

It’s amazing, but doesn’t surprise me, how often psychotic illness follows stress in someone prone to this ‘coping mechanism’ and how perception of reality is often exaggeration of fact:
A sensitive individual, religious, believing himself the son of God (we are all sons of God);
traffic policeman, night shift (figuratively Christ-image) seeks escape from a reality he finds threatening. He overcompensates, turning a feeling of inadequacy into a Messianic ideation. And others seeking external leadership project the image onto this individual, affirming, consolidating and confirming belief.
Outwardly, it appears everyone’s need is being met.:slight_smile:

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit