RUSSIA: How Putin humors Xi Jinping: Crackdown on Moscow’s Falun Gong

A woman has been arrested on May 3 and three other practitioners held as witnesses.

By Massimo Introvigne

Bitter Winter (06.05.2024) – After the start of its war of aggression against Ukraine, Russia is often described as a satellite state of China, from which it increasingly depends for economic survival and military supplies.

One casualty of this state of affairs is Falun Gong. The movement poses no threats to Russia, and for years it has been depicted with benevolence by most Russian media, which even praised its Qigong practices as beneficial for the practitioners’ health. Even after, under Chinese pressure, key Falun Gong texts were declared “extremist” in 2008, activities in Russia continued. In 2020, seven Falun-Gong-related organizations were declared “undesirable” in Russia, but until the 2022 war in Ukraine the label “undesirable,” unlike “extremist,” did not totally prevent organizations from operating in the country.

Russian and European anti-cultists part of the international federation FECRIS, on the other hand, continued to express support for the bloody repression of Falun Gong in China and to call for harsher measures elsewhere. Certain Western branches and leaders of the FECRIS were “subcontracted” to publicly deny that Falun Gong practitioners in China are victims of the criminal practice of organ harvesting, although that this is the case has been affirmed twice by the European Parliament.

After the aggression against Ukraine, the law on “undesirable” organizations was amended in Russia and now “undesirable” and “extremist” organizations for all practical purposes are treated in the same way.

On May 3, special forces raided in Moscow the private homes of several Falun Gong practitioners. They arrested Natalia Minenkova as “leader” of an “undesirable” organization and held another three practitioners as witnesses. According to the state-owned agency “RIA Novosti,” they are also accused of a much more serious crime, i.e., “attempting to organize color revolutions in Russia and China with the direct support of the US State Department.”


On April 16, a woman found in possession of Falun Gong literature and accused of sharing it with others had been arrested by the FSB in Pyatigorsk.

On May 4, a judge from the Tushinsky District Court in Moscow confirmed the detention of Minenkova for one month and twenty-five days, pending further investigations.

       Natalia Minenkova meditating in Moscow. Source: Falun Dafa                                                  Infocenter.


Massimo Introvigne (born June 14, 1955 in Rome) is an Italian sociologist of religions. He is the founder and managing director of the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR), an international network of scholars who study new religious movements. Introvigne is the author of some 70 books and more than 100 articles in the field of sociology of religion. He was the main author of the Enciclopedia delle religioni in Italia (Encyclopedia of Religions in Italy). He is a member of the editorial board for the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion and of the executive board of University of California Press’ Nova Religio.  From January 5 to December 31, 2011, he has served as the “Representative on combating racism, xenophobia and discrimination, with a special focus on discrimination against Christians and members of other religions” of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). From 2012 to 2015 he served as chairperson of the Observatory of Religious Liberty, instituted by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to monitor problems of religious liberty on a worldwide scale.

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