The world didn't end yesterday

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The Independent Online
THE END of the world, scheduled for central Kiev yesterday, was a flop - its promoters in jail, fans put off by fear of arrest and its divine sponsor moving in ways far too mysterious for most to fathom.

What small audience there was for an apocalypse promised by the Great White Brotherhood came from television crews, bored policemen and weary parents on the look- out for missing teenage children bewitched by the cult.

Ukrainian authorities, with little else to celebrate in a country blighted by hyperinflation, a debauched currency, the return of Soviet queues and other signs of economic catastrophe, were quick to congratulate themselves on this one small triumph: they saved the world. 'We knew sooner or later we would win,' said an Interior Ministry spokesman. 'We've turned the end of the world into a farce.'

The White Brotherhood, founded three years ago by Yuri Krivonogov, hypnotist, adept in yoga and former pysychological weapons researcher, has been condemned by the Orthodox Church as an agent of the anti-Christ and by Ukrainian nationalists as the agent of Russian imperialism.

Armageddon was originally set for 24 November and then brought forward to yesterday. Mr Krivonogov and Marina Tsvygun, who likes to be called Maria Devi Khristos or God, have since sought to finesse the date of The End, telling police that precise timing depended on the still flexible date of Mrs Tsvygun's own demise. Police, however, say she is physically in good health and eating heartily.

The cancellation of yesterday's apocalypse could discredit the sect for good. But there are many others - 100 in Russia and Ukraine according to a one recent count - ready to take over.

Leading article, page 15