Sterligov Attempts to Talk With Sect

A group of experts from the country's leading psychiatric hospital arrived in the Penza region Monday to try to make contact with members of a doomsday cult holed up in an underground hideout and awaiting the end of the world.

The experts from the Serbsky Institute in Moscow were to be joined by German Sterligov, one of Russia's first millionaires, to talk with the members, Penza regional official Yevgeny Guseinov said, Interfax reported Monday.

Twenty-nine followers of self-declared prophet Pyotr Kuznetsov -- including four children -- went into an underground hideout earlier this month and have threatened to blow themselves up if forced to leave. They say they believe that the world will end in May.

Sterligov, who once had a thriving coffin business, now lives as a peasant farmer after reportedly finding religion.

"Sterligov already spoke to the sect followers Sunday," Guseinov said, adding that Sterligov tried to coax them out of the hideout, Interfax reported.