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RUSSIA: Leading anti-cultist calls Ukrainians “nazis,” “satanists,” and “cannibals”

Russian leading anti-cultist calls Ukrainians “nazis,” “satanists,” and “cannibals”

Archpriest Alexander Novopashin is vice-president of Russia’s largest anti-cult organization, and still styles himself as a “corresponding member” of FECRIS.

By Massimo Introvigne

 

Bitter Winter (04.07.2022)- https://bit.ly/3aaZjly – A journalist friend of Bitter Winter received from the Diocese of Novosibirsk of the Russian Orthodox Church the text of an interview by Archpriest Alexander Novopashin published by the Komsomolskaya Pravda on June 24, and a CV explaining why Novopashin matters and the interview was important. He sent it to us, knowing we follow Novopashin with interest.

He is, as the CV (which is also published on the website of the missionary department of his diocese) explains, a “corresponding member” of FECRIS, the European Federation of Centers of Research and Information on Cults and Sects. The same web site emphasizes the role of Novopashin as vice-president of the Center for Religious Studies, the Russian anti-cult umbrella organization whose President is the FECRIS board member Alexander Dvorkin.

As Bitter Winter has reported, after the Russian aggression against Ukraine the Center for Religious Studies disappeared from the list of FECRIS member organizations on FECRIS’s web site, although no official statement or press release explained why. As far as we know, Dvorkin is still a member of FECRIS’ board. And if FECRIS does not consider Novopashin as a “corresponding member” any longer, it should say so clearly and take action against his website.

All this is of some interest in view of the “important” interview with Novopashin his diocese is advertising and has republished. We are accustomed to Russian propaganda, and to the fact that Russian FECRIS-connected anti-cultists such as Alexander Dvorkin accuse “the cults” of having worked with the American intelligence to create the democratic movement in Ukraine.

However, the FECRIS “corresponding member”’s interview is extreme even by Russian standards. The interviewer starts by telling Novopashin that, “There is a Z sign on your service church car. Your position regarding the special military operation in Ukraine becomes immediately clear.” The anti-cult leader answers that he “expressed [his] position on the very first day of the special operation, calling it anti-terrorist, by the way. Because the political regime of Ukraine is undoubtedly terrorist, extremist, misanthropic, Nazi. The Z sign means a world in which there is no place for Nazism and Satanism. For me, Nazism and Satanism are synonymous words.”

Novopashin reminisces that in the good old Soviet times Ukrainians felt they were not really separated from Russia. But then Ukraine rapidly went “downhill, according to the plans prepared by Western and American experts who are pretty well versed in destructive activities. The work to split our people has been carried out incessantly, especially intensively for the last thirty years, and, unfortunately, not without success. It took a lot of money to do this. But the work on the separation of Ukrainians and Russians reached its apogee after Euromaidan. Ukrainians seem to have been completely changed. They have become different. And this is understandable, because the pressure on their consciousness was unprecedented. And it continues for this purpose.” The West, Novopashin explains as an expert on “cults,” used the same “psychotechniques” used by “cults.” In fact, it used them in Ukraine by infiltrating or sponsoring “cults” there.

The aim of the dual conspiracy of the West and the “cults” in Ukraine, Novopashin explains, was to promote “Nazism.” “A significant part of the population of Ukraine is imbued with this ideology… but Ukrainian youth have suffered especially. Actually, the West was counting on it, the youth, initially.”

In fact, Novopashin explains, Ukrainians are so Nazi that even children in schools prepare dishes for the holidays and give them names “like ‘Blood of Russian babies’ and so on. Although, of course, Ukrainian school teachers helped them in coming up with the names. Children are made cannibals.”

They do not actually eat Russian human flesh or drink Russian blood in schools, but they become cannibals psychologically, Novopashin believes. When they grow up, they pass to “action.” For example, Novopashin says, “a seemingly prosperous Ukrainian girl writes in social networks that prisoners of war should be sold for organs. And she gets likes. The worst thing is that these are not just statements, they are a call to action.” Because of the Western and cultist “brainwashing,” in Ukraine now “the whole air is poisoned by Nazi ideology, Ukrainians are forced to breathe it. Of course, even in this case, not all become ukronazists or radical nationalists, but the others just turn a blind eye to what is happening… However, when they are given a machine gun in their hands and told to go and kill the Russians, they go and kill. Including civilians, children, pregnant women, the elderly. Maybe they are not neo-Nazis in spirit, but they are killing… Do you understand?”

One objection by the interviewer is that there are Russian-speaking Ukrainians fighting for Ukraine against Russia. Novopashin answers that they have been brainwashed and have become “Russian bastards.” “This is just about what can be done to a person, daily, hourly affecting her consciousness. Deprive her of critical thinking, remove the protective barrier—and then you can upload anything into a person’s head. And as a result, depending on the information with which she is fed, a person can mentally degrade. Russians, who have mentally degraded, cease to be Russians, they become ‘Russian bastards.’ Russian bastards hate everything Russian: faith, culture, history, literature. The Azov Regiment is made of Russian bastards. Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences Sergey Yurievich Glazyev says that Russian bastards are worse than fascists, and declares that we, Russians, cannot have any dialogue with Russian bastards.”

How did the West operate? It understood, Novopashin explains, that it should destroy the Russian Orthodox Church, and it did it through the “cults.” “Cultist, primarily neo-Pentecostal, and neo-pagan organizations began to be created in Ukraine from the beginning of the 1990s, in which tens of thousands of Ukrainians were fraudulently involved. The neo-pagans showed themselves to be the most aggressive. They sawed down wayside crosses, set fire to Orthodox churches and chapels. But the neo-Pentecostals were not much better than them. They did not set fire to churches, but… It is well known that neo-Pentecostal missionaries were sent from Ukraine to Russia, whose goal was to ‘reform the consciousness of Russians on the basis of the Euromaidan values,’ spread the ‘theology of Maidan,’ create cultic communities in the form of sleeping cells on ‘enemy territory,’ that is, on our territory, which could be quickly awakened in case of any disturbances. Let me remind you that this was the case on the Maidan, when thousands of members of the cults came to the square in the center of Kiev.”

With the war, Novopashin insists, the cat is out of the bag and Ukrainian “cultists” show their true Satanist self. Many “members of the Ukrainian national security forces,” the anti-cultists explains, “perform Satanic rituals, paint their bodies not only with swastikas, but also with Satanic and occult symbols. In fact, these are cults… The Nazis declare themselves servants of Satan and challenge God.”

Novopashin admits that he has no evidence that the Ukraine military perform human sacrifices to Satan or cannibalism. “But if the Nazi Satanists, he asks, painted with occult and pagan signs, cut the prisoners’ throats, do not spare the elderly, rape, and then brutally kill women and children by carving swastikas on the dead bodies, is this not the same act of sacrifice to their pagan gods?”

But why should the West promote such horrors in Ukraine? The “FECRIS corresponding member” has the answer: “To destroy everything that connects Ukraine with the Greater Russia, the Russian civilization, with Russia, with the Russian world. Such an ideology is always destructive… The special operation of denazification is carried out not only to destroy the hydra in its lair, but to  protect the whole Russian world.” However, Novopashin believes that destroying the hydra in Ukraine would not be enough. The West, he says, is already at work in other countries. “After an end will be put to Ukrainian Nazism, some other aggressor country will appear, through which the United States will begin to threaten Russia. A civilizational war cannot be avoided.”

These theories seem to suggest that the Archpriest is not operating with a full deck, but it  is important to note that Novopashin is not a lonely madman. His interviews are reprinted nationwide, and advertised by his diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Maybe, but we do not know for sure, the membership of his organization in the FECRIS has been recently suspended, but he claims to be still with FECRIS as an individual. And Novopashin and Dvorkin did not develop these ideas overnight when Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022. Russian anti-cultists started making preposterous claims about “cultists” being used by the CIA to create a democratic anti-Russian movement in Ukraine at the time of the Orange Revolution in 2004, and continued in 2014 and beyond. During all these times, they were part of FECRIS and hailed by FECRIS as particularly effective members. It would be difficult now for FECRIS to claim it didn’t know what the positions of its Russian affiliates were about Ukraine.

Photo: Archpriest Alexander Novopashin. From VKontakte.

***************************************************

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.

 

Further reading about FORB in Russia on HRWF website





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RUSSIA: FECRIS should lose its consultative ECOSOC status with the U.N.

FECRIS should lose its consultative ECOSOC status with the United Nations

By Bitter Winter

Bitter Winter (14/06/2022) – https://bit.ly/3HyZzY0 – Bitter Winter proved in a series of articles that the anti-cult organization FECRIS and its affiliates constantly supported Russia and China. An international appeal (with many Ukrainian signatures).

The Honorable Antony J. Blinken

Secretary of State

U.S. Department of State

2201 C Street, NW

Washington, DC 20230

Dear Secretary Blinken:

We write as an informal group of organizations and individuals who are religious and secular leaders, human rights advocates, practitioners, and scholars to respectfully urge you, as a member of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) at the United Nations (UN), to request the withdrawal of consultative status that is currently held by FECRIS (the European Federation of Centres for Research and Information on Sects and Cults) with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

This letter is a multi-faith initiative of the International Religious Freedom (IRF) Roundtable, a multi-faith, inclusive (of all faiths and beliefs), equal citizenship forum that has proven it is possible to engage cooperatively and constructively across deep differences and increase mutual understanding, respect, trust, and reliance through joint advocacy actions.

While we hold an extremely broad diversity of theological views and political positions, we all agree on the importance of international religious freedom. It strengthens cultures and provides the foundation for stable democracies and their components, including civil society, economic growth, and social harmony. As such, it is also an effective counter-terrorism weapon as it pre-emptively undermines religious extremism. History and modern scholarship make it clear that where people are allowed to practice their faith freely, they are less likely to be alienated from the government, and more likely to be good citizens.

In signing this letter, we have opted into a multi-faith coalition to urge you to strip FECRIS of its consultative status with ECOSOC. Indeed, per ECOSOC Resolution 1996/31, the consultative status of NGOs with ECOSOC shall be suspended up to three years or withdrawn in the following case:

If an organization, either directly or through its affiliates or representatives acting on its behalf, clearly abuses its status by engaging in a pattern of acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations including unsubstantiated or politically motivated acts against Member States of the United Nations incompatible with those purposes and principles.

FECRIS is a French-based umbrella organization that coordinates with member associations in more than 40 EU countries, and beyond. It was created in 1994 by a French anti-cult association named UNADFI and receives all of its funding from the French government (while its member associations may receive funding from their own governments). In 2009, FECRIS was granted “ECOSOC Special Consultative Status” by the UN.

During its history, FECRIS and its members have accumulated a great number of civil and criminal convictions for their actions that defame minority religions and spread hate speech against them.[1]

From 2009 to 2021, Alexander Dvorkin, head of the Saint Irenaeus of Lyons Center for Religious Studies in Russia, served as Vice-President of FECRIS. Since 2021, he has continued to serve as a member of its board of directors. Dvorkin, on behalf of FECRIS, has been a key architect of the crackdown on religious minorities in Russia and beyond, as he spread his anti-religious propaganda and misinformation to other countries,[2] including as far as China.[3]

Moreover, Alexander Dvorkin has been a driver of the Anti-West propaganda of the Kremlin for years, and directly and publicly attacked the democratic institutions of Ukraine after the Euromaidan protests, accusing them of being members of cults (Baptists, Evangelicals, Greek Catholics, pagans and Scientologists) being used by Western secret services to harm Russia.[4] Further, Dvorkin and other members and correspondents of the Russian FECRIS have been involved in the constant propaganda, which prepared the ground and justified the current war in Ukraine, as a war against Western decadence and a war to protect Russian spiritual values.[5]

During the first four weeks of the war in Ukraine, Russian FECRIS associations have been actively supporting the war and openly working with Russian law enforcement agencies to gather information on anyone who would oppose it or even just share information on the casualties in Ukraine.[6] At the same time, Russia has enacted a law that established a jail sentence of up to 15 years for any person “discrediting the armed forces,” which includes speaking of “war” instead of the official Russian term, “special military operation.”

Until now, no discipline has ever been taken against Dvorkin and/or Russian FECRIS associations for their actions that spread propaganda and catalyze discrimination and persecution of religious communities[7]. It is known and understood that FECRIS has known about the ideology and actions of its Russian members for years, and has continued to support them, nonetheless.

FECRIS as an entity must be held accountable for the activities of its Russian member associations for the following reasons:

While FECRIS has been alerted about the outrageous ideology and actions of Alexander Dvorkin and Russian member associations for years, it has kept Dvorkin on its board of directors, which elected him twice as Vice President, and has supported the associations all along, having never taken any disciplinary actions against any of them.

In fact, FECRIS has been actively coordinating as an entity with Russian authorities to trigger the crackdown on religious minorities since as far back as 2009—the same year it was granted “ECOSOC Special Consultative Status” by the UN.

The mere ideology and methodology of FECRIS, as a constant, is to use authoritative governments to trigger crackdowns on religious communities it stigmatizes as sects or cults, with no regard to their human dignity, liberty of conscience, and other fundamentals human rights.

In conclusion, FECRIS should be stripped of its ECOSOC consultative status at the UN. Its aims and activities are in complete opposition to the aims and purposes of the UN. Further, Russian FECRIS associates are actively supporting the war in Ukraine.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Respectfully,

Organizations

Bitter Winter, a daily magazine on religious liberty and human rights

Boat People SOS (BPSOS)

Campaign to Abolish Modern-day Slavery in Asia (CAMSA)

CESNUR, Center for Studies on New Religions

Committee for Religious Freedom in Vietnam

European Federation for Freedom of Belief (FOB)

European Interreligious Forum for Religious Freedom (EIFRF)

Gerard Noodt Foundation

Human Rights Without Frontiers

Jubilee Campaign USA

The All Faiths Network UK

The Center for Studies on Freedom of Religion Belief and Conscience (LIREC)

The Orthodox Public Affairs Committee (OPAC)

Ukrainian Association of Religious Studies (UARR)

Union of Councils for Jews in the former Soviet Union (UCSJ)

Individuals [With name, title, and affiliation for identification purposes only]

Greg Mitchell
Chair, IRF Roundtable
Chair, IRF Secretariat

Prof. Alla Aristova
Ukrainian Encyclopedia

Eileen Barker OBE FBA
Professor Emeritus
London School of Economics

Prof. Alla Boyko
Institute of Journalism, Shevchenko University of Kyiv – Ukraine

Keegan Burke
DC branch director
Alliance of Religions

Prof. Yurii Chornomorets
Drahomanov University – Ukraine

Anuttama Dasa
Global Director of Communications
International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)

Soraya M Deen
Founder
Muslim Women Speakers

Nguyen Dinh Thang, PhD
Laureate of the 2011 Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award

Prof. Vitalii Dokash
Vice-President
Ukrainian Association of Religious Studies (UARR)

Prof. Liudmyla Fylypovych
Vice-President
Ukrainian Association of Religious Studies (UARR)

George Gigicos
Co-Founder and Chairman
The Orthodox Public Affairs Committee (OPAC)

Nathan Haddad
Coordinator
OIAC (Organization of Iranian American Communities)

Lauren Homer
President
Law and Liberty Trust

PhD Oksana Horkusha
Institute of Philosophy of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

Massimo Introvigne
Editor in Chief
Bitter Winter, a daily magazine on religious liberty and human rights

Ruslan Khalikov, PhD
Member of the Board
Ukrainian Association of Researchers of Religion

Prof. Anatolii Kolodnyi
President
Ukrainian Association of Religious Studies (UARR)

PhD. Hanna Kulagina-Stadnichenko
Secretary
Ukrainian Association of Religious Studies (UARR)

Larry Lerner
President of Union of Councils for Jews in the former Soviet Union (UCSJ)

PhD Svitlana Loznytsia
Institute of Philosophy of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

Raffaella Di Marzio
Managing Director
Center for Freedom of Religion Belief and Conscience (LIREC)

Hans Noot
President
Gerard Noodt Foundation

Prof. Oleksandr Sagan
Vice-President
Ukrainian Association of Religious Studies (UARR)

Bachittar Singh Ughrha
Founder and President
Center for defence of human rights

Prof. Roman Sitarchuk
Vice-President
Ukrainian Association of Religious Studies (UARR)

Rev. Dr. Scott Stearman
UN Representative
Baptist World Alliance

Prof. Vita Tytarenko
Grinchenko University – Ukraine

Andrew Veniopoulos
Co-Founder and Vice-Chairman
The Orthodox Public Affairs Committee (OPAC)

PhD Volodymyr Volkovsky
Institute of Philosophy of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

Martin Weightman
Director
The All Faith Network

Prof. Leonid Vyhovsky
Khmelnytsky University of Law – Ukraine

Prof. Victor Yelenski
National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

Former member of the Ukrainian Parliament
Honorary Member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

 

[1] “FECRIS and affiliates: Defamation is in their DNA”, an article by Willy Fautré, director and co-founder of Human Rights Without Frontiers International https://freedomofbelief.net/articles/a-roundup-of-convictions-collected-by-fecris-in-europe

[2] USCIRF report, 2020, “The Anti-cult Movement and Religious Regulation in Russia and the Former Soviet Union” https://www.uscirf.gov/sites/default/files/2020%20Anti-Cult%20Update%20-%20Religious%20Regulation%20in%20Russia.pdf

[3] “USCIRF Exposes European “Experts” Who Support CCP Campaigns Against ‘Cults’”, an article by Massimo Introvigne https://bitterwinter.org/uscirf-exposes-who-support-ccp-campaigns/

[4] How the anti-cult movement has participated to fuel Russian anti-Ukraine rhetoric, an article by Jan-Leonid Bornstein https://www.europeantimes.news/2022/03/how-the-anti-cult-movement-has-participated-to-fuel-russian-anti-ukraine-rhetoric/

[5] Article on EIFRF website https://www.eifrf-articles.org/Why-FECRIS-should-be-held-responsible-for-its-Russian-members-activities_a238.html

[6] Anti-cult movement hunting pacifists for police in Russia: Back in the USSR, an article by Jan-Leonid Bornstein https://www.europeantimes.news/2022/03/anti-cult-movement-hunting-pacifists-for-police-in-russia-back-in-the-ussr/

[7] After March 30, 2022, after a series of published articles denouncing FECRIS links to Russian propaganda, the names of the Russian organizations disappeared from the list of members on FECRIS’ website. Although a member of the FECRIS board privately answered a question by a scholar stating they had been very recently expelled because of the war on Ukraine, no official statement by FECRIS has been published to this date (April 6) confirming this expulsion.

Copies:

Ahmed Shaheed (UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of Religion or Belief)
Marija Pejčinović Burić (Secretary General, Council of Europe)
Dunja Mijatović (Commissioner of Human Rights, Council of Europe)
Michelle Bachelet Jeria (United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights)
Elisabeth Borne (French Prime Minister)

Further reading about FORB in Russia on HRWF website





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RUSSIA: FECRIS, Russia, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and the War on Ukraine

FECRIS, Russia, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and the War on Ukraine

HRWF (09.06.2022) – For years, FECRIS (European Federation of Centres for Research and Information on Sects and Cults), a French-based umbrella organization[i] that coordinates with member and correspondent associations in more than 40 countries, has been repeatedly denounced for its close and dangerous relationships with extremist branches and actors of the Russian Orthodox Church headed by the controversial Patriarch Kirill who is being heavily criticized for fully supporting Putin’s war on Ukraine.

 

FECRIS counted a large number of Russian associations amongst its members and correspondents, all headed by the Saint Irenaeus of Lyons Center for Religious Studies. It included the RATSIR (Russian Association of Cent[ii]ers for the Study of Religions and Sects) and all of its affiliated associations. Many of them which were Orthodox missionary organizations and groups opposed to LGBT people and same-sex marriages, were directly headed by the Russian Orthodox Church.[iii]

 

Alexander Dvorkin, former vice-president of FECRIS

 

From 2009 to 2021, Alexander Dvorkin, head of the Saint Irenaeus of Lyons Center for Religious Studies, served as Vice-President of FECRIS. Since 2021, he has continued to serve as a member of its board of directors.

 

Dvorkin, on behalf of FECRIS, has been a key architect of the crackdown on religious minorities in Russia and beyond, as he spread his anti-religious propaganda and misinformation to other countries,[iv] including as far as China.[v]

 

Dvorkin has been a driver of the Anti-West propaganda of the Kremlin for years, and directly and publicly attacked the democratic institutions of Ukraine after the Euromaidan protests, accusing them of being members of cults (Baptists, Evangelicals, Greek Catholics, pagans and Scientologists) being used by Western secret services to harm Russia.[vi]

 

During the first four weeks of the war in Ukraine, Russian FECRIS associations have been actively supporting the war and openly working with Russian law enforcement agencies to gather information on anyone who would oppose it or even just share information on the casualties in Ukraine.[vii] At the same time, Russia has enacted a law that established a jail sentence for up to 15 years for any person “discrediting the armed forces,” which includes speaking of “war” instead of the official Russian term, “special military operation.”

 

In April, FECRIS’ Russian member organizations were discreetly removed from its website

 

Until now, no discipline has ever been placed on Dvorkin and/or Russian FECRIS associations. It is to be understood that FECRIS knows about the ideology and actions of its Russian members for years, and has continued to support them, nonetheless. In April 2022 all of a sudden, after a series of articles were published on FECRIS and its Russian connections, all Russian organizations disappeared from the list of member organizations in FECRIS’ website. A member of the board of FECRIS answered a private inquiry by a scholar that they had been “expelled” or “suspended” in March. However no official communication was published (as of April 6) about this, and the Saint Irenaeus of Lyons Center for Religious Studies’ website (as of April 6) continued to state that the Center was a member of FECRIS.

 

More importantly, this “clandestine” removal of the Russian names from the list of members was not accompanied by any self-criticism of the support FECRIS has continued for decades to offer to Russian crackdown on religious minorities, nor of any acknowledgement of the anti-democratic nature of the ideology FECRIS and its then Vice President Dvorkin has continuously propagated in FECRIS events and under the FECRIS label.

 

Dvorkin and other members of the Russian FECRIS have been involved in the constant propaganda of the Russian Orthodox Church under Patriarch Kirill, which prepared the ground and justified the current war in Ukraine, as a war against Western decadence and a war to protect Russian spiritual values.[viii]

 

On the other hand, over the years, FECRIS and its member associations have accumulated a great number of civil and criminal convictions for their actions that defame minority religions and spread hate speech against them.[ix]

 

FECRIS as an entity must be held accountable for the activities of its Russian member associations for the following reasons:

 

  • While FECRIS has been alerted about the outrageous ideology and actions of Alexander Dvorkin and Russian member associations for years, it has kept Dvorkin on its board of directors, which elected him twice as Vice President, and has supported the associations all along, having never taken any disciplinary actions against any of them.

 

  • In fact, FECRIS has been actively coordinating as an entity with Russian authorities to trigger the crackdown on religious minorities since as far back as 2009.

 

  • The mere ideology and methodology of FECRIS, as a constant, is to use authoritarian governments to trigger crackdowns on religious communities it stigmatizes as dangerous sects or cults, with no regard to their human dignity, liberty of conscience, and other fundamentals human rights.

 

Further reading

 

https://bitterwinter.org/anti-cult-federation-fecris-china-and-russia-1-why-fecris-is-in-trouble/

https://bitterwinter.org/anti-cult-federation-fecris-2-anti-cult-models/

https://bitterwinter.org/fecris-china-and-russia-3-western-anti-cultists/

https://bitterwinter.org/4-fecris-and-anti-cult-cooperation-with-china/

https://bitterwinter.org/5-fecriss-support-religious-repression-in-russia/

https://bitterwinter.org/6-russian-fecris-support-for-invasions-of-ukraine/

 

 

__________________________________________

[i] FECRIS was created in 1994 by a French anti-cult association named UNADFI and receives all of its funding from the French government while its member associations may receive funding from their own governments, including in Russia through the Russian Orthodox Church.

[iii] Article on EIFRF website https://www.eifrf-articles.org/Why-FECRIS-should-be-held-responsible-for-its-Russian-members-activities_a238.html

[iv] USCIRF report, 2020, “The Anti-cult Movement and Religious Regulation in Russia and the Former Soviet Union” https://www.uscirf.gov/sites/default/files/2020%20Anti-Cult%20Update%20-%20Religious%20Regulation%20in%20Russia.pdf

[v] “USCIRF Exposes European “Experts” Who Support CCP Campaigns Against ‘Cults’”, an article by Massimo Introvigne https://bitterwinter.org/uscirf-exposes-who-support-ccp-campaigns/

[vi] How the anti-cult movement has participated to fuel Russian anti-Ukraine rhetoric, an article by Jan-Leonid Bornstein https://www.europeantimes.news/2022/03/how-the-anti-cult-movement-has-participated-to-fuel-russian-anti-ukraine-rhetoric/

[vii] Anti-cult movement hunting pacifists for police in Russia: Back in the USSR, an article by Jan-Leonid Bornstein https://www.europeantimes.news/2022/03/anti-cult-movement-hunting-pacifists-for-police-in-russia-back-in-the-ussr/

[viii] Article on EIFRF website https://www.eifrf-articles.org/Why-FECRIS-should-be-held-responsible-for-its-Russian-members-activities_a238.html

[ix] “FECRIS and affiliates: Defamation is in their DNA”, an article by Willy Fautré, director and co-founder of Human Rights Without Frontiers International https://freedomofbelief.net/articles/a-roundup-of-convictions-collected-by-fecris-in-europe

Photo: Alexander Dvorkin, Vice-president of the FECRIS, with a russian orthodox priest. Source: rebelles-le-mag.com

Further reading about FORB in Russia on HRWF website





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RUSSIA: The Russian FECRIS’ support for the invasion of Ukraine

The Russian FECRIS’ support for the invasion of Ukraine

The Anti-Cult Federation FECRIS, China, and Russia.

 6. The Russian FECRIS’ Support for the Invasions of Ukraine

Article 5 of 7. Read article 1article 2article 3article 4, and article 5

by Luigi Berzano (University of Torino, Italy), Boris Falikov (Moscow State University for the Humanities, Moscow, Russia), Willy Fautré (Human Rights Without Frontiers, Brussels, Belgium), Liudmyla Filipovich (Department of Religious Studies, Institute of Philosophy of the National Academy of Sciences, Kiev, Ukraine), Massimo Introvigne (Center for Studies on New Religions, Torino, Italy), and Bernadette Rigal-Cellard (University Bordeaux-Montaigne, Bordeaux, France).

Bitter Winter (27.04.2022) – https://bit.ly/3xYwhiB – Both in 2014 and 2022, the Russian FECRIS affiliates unequivocally supported Putin, contributing the conspiracy theory that “cults” were used by the West in Ukraine against Russian interests.

After the Ukrainian war started, the groups listed until the end of March on FECRIS’s web site as FECRIS Russian affiliates unequivocally supported the war.

Some of the texts they published were truly disturbing, such as the comment in an article republished on the website of Archpriest Alexander Novopashin, who is or was the Vice President of the FECRIS affiliate Center for Religious Studies, that Mariupol after 2014 was “occupied by pure, unalloyed Nazis,” which is the usual Russian propaganda argument to justify the atrocities perpetrated there. It would be no defense, in this as in other cases quoted in this paragraph, that Novopashin only reprinted articles from Russian media. Reprinting is in itself a political act, and implies approval

On the same Novopashin’s website, echoing again the usual propaganda, another article explained that “Ukraine’s problem is fascism… fascism must be destroyed… Fascists cannot be defended. One of the main tragedies of Ukraine is that the neo-Nazis seized power and forced the army to fight for their ideology. Ordinary Ukrainian boys are dying—not for their land, no. No one takes the land from the Ukrainians, and even the leadership of the cities does not change when Russian troops enter there. The guys are dying defending the interests of the Nazis.” Yet another text republished on the same website, titled “May God Help Give Peace to Ukraine By the Hands of Russian Peacekeepers,” argued that “in reality, there is no Ukrainian statehood. There is, on the one hand, a gang of thieves and international speculators, and on the other hand, a gang of fanatics and murderers.”

As for the website of the St. Irenaeus Center, Dvorkin’s own organization, it summarized on March 18 an interview given by another leading Russian anti-cultist, Roman Silantyev, who mused about “the upcoming parade of victory over Ukrainian Nazism,” and claimed that what the media described as school shootings by disturbed teenagers in Russia had been in fact organized by “the centers of information and psychological operations of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.” Silantyev stated that “so far the majority of the population of Ukraine considers themselves Christians, but this was also the case in the openly anti-Christian Third Reich.” In fact, he claimed, the real religion in Ukraine is a ritualized hatred of Russia with the intention of destroying Russia. For Russians, it was “better to hit first.”

 

The Saratov branch of the Center for Religious Studies, still a FECRIS affiliate at that date, published a letter to its supporters and friends on March 2 claiming that “the West has long understood that we cannot be defeated in a war on the battlefield,” but was waging a proxy war through the “cults,” which contribute to spread such absurd theories as that “Russia is an aggressor” and it “bombs civilians.” The Saratov anti-cult center tried to recruit police informants “to help in monitoring the activities of this kind of provocateurs. Please send screenshots, the data indicated by them (names and surnames, phone numbers and e-mail addresses) for further analysis, which is carried out by our anti-cult organizations together with law enforcement agencies of the Russian Federation” (by the way, at the time of this writing the website still mentions that the Saratov Branch is affiliated with FECRIS).

FECRIS may tell us that the Russian FECRIS branches have been expelled or suspended. However, at the time of this writing Dvorkin is still a FECRIS board member. More importantly, the aggressive attitude against Ukraine is not something the Russian FECRIS branches developed only in 2022. It went on for many years before the 2022 war, without any criticism by the FECRIS leadership.

The Russian policy on Ukraine was not created all of a sudden in 2022. It developed from 2004 on, when Russia built a narrative that the “Orange Revolution” was an American-Western anti-Russian conspiracy, and continued in 2014 when the second popular revolt against the filo-Russian politician, then President, Viktor Yanukovych, was again branded as an American plot, which justified the Russian invasion of Crimea and of Donbass, where the two pseudo-“independent republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk were proclaimed.

The role of the Russian FECRIS and the anti-cult movement was to insist that the American-Western conspiracy against Russia included “cults” as a tool to Westernize Ukraine. The importance of FECRIS’ role, of course, should not be exaggerated. “Cults” were certainly not the main theme of the Russian rhetoric about a Western plot whose aim was to separate Ukraine from Russia. However, the importance of the “cult” argument should not be underestimated either. As we have seen in our previous articles, Putin’s ideology derives from an old nationalist tradition dating back to Ivan Ilyn and the beginning of the 20th century, which promoted the idea that Russia is under siege and the West tries to destroy the Russian spirit through three main tools, the propaganda of democracy, the apology of homosexuality, and the “cults” used to undermine the Orthodox identity of Russia and the Russosphere. “Cults” are not the only element of this alleged conspiracy, but are a significant part of it.

Since the Orange Revolution of 2004 the Russian FECRIS devoted considerable resources to prove that “cultists” maneuvered by the United States were playing a key role in the creation of a Ukrainian identity separate from Russia. They mentioned three smoking guns allegedly proving the Western conspiracy.

The first was that Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who was Ukraine’s Prime Minister between 2014 and 2016, after Yanukovych was removed from the presidency, was a Scientologist, or at least he was “controlled by the CIA through Scientology,” as Dvorkin told in 2014 a Serbian web site. “Behind the Ukrainian crisis, there is a secret plan of a group of religious cults and sects in which the political leadership of Ukraine itself is participating,” Dvorkin claimed. In an interview published in his own web site, Dvorkin offered more details. Scientologists “put Yatsenyuk into a trance, pumped out all compromising information about him. And the person passed under the control of the Scientologists. Scientology concluded a secret agreement with the U.S. CIA; therefore, it is clear under whose control Arseniy Yatsenyuk is.”

That Yatsenyuk is “controlled by Scientology” has been repeated time and again. There is only one problem about this story, it is not true. Not even Tony Ortega, one of the most extreme anti-cultists and critics of Scientology in the United States and one who would normally believe all sort of anti-Scientology propaganda, bought Dvorkin’s story. From the beginning, he wrote in February 2014, “we had serious doubts about that story, which was thin on details. For its allegation about Scientology, it pointed to Yatsenyuk’s Wikipedia entry, which claimed that Yatsenyuk, 40, was primarily involved in Scientology through his sister Alina Steel, 47, who lives in Santa Barbara and was supposedly an auditor and heavily into the church. But shortly after the Dallas story appeared, that allegation was scrubbed from the Wikipedia entry in English (the assertion still exists in Wikipedia’s Russian-language version).” Ortega found no evidence of Alina’s involvement in Scientology, either, and her daughter dismissed it as “crap.”

Perhaps because he became aware of criticism even within the international anti-cult network, Dvorkin later offered the version that “we cannot directly call Yatsenyuk a Scientologist. We can only say that, according to many experts, he had connections with them.” But he insisted that, “There is a curious fact: As soon as the Kiev junta, which came to power as a result of a coup, where the prime minister is suspected of having links with Scientology, began to have problems, the director of the CIA arrived incognito in the capital of Ukraine and held secret meetings.”

“The Atlantic” also investigated the matter and concluded that Yatsenyuk was not a Scientologist. “Despite popular online rumors that he is either a Scientologist or Jewish, Yatsenyuk identifies himself as a Ukrainian Greek Catholic,” i.e., a “Uniate,” as Orthodox call those who maintain a Greek liturgy but are united with the Holy See. But perhaps, “The Atlantic” noted, for Russian propaganda “it’s a difference without a distinction.” In fact, Dvorkin claimed in 2014 that “Euromaidan is an explosive religious mixture. Secretly influenced by Scientologists. Uniates, neo-Pentecostal, neo-pagan; Baptists spoke openly. First of all, Euromaidan was Uniate. The Uniate Church is one of the aggressive parts of Roman Catholicism.”

The second smoking gun was the fact that some Ukrainian anti-Russian politicians were Evangelical or Pentecostal. Oleksandr Turchynov, who was Acting President of Ukraine for a few months after Yanukovych’s fall in 2014 and held other important political positions, is a Baptist minister. He is associated with Word of Life Ministries, a missionary organization founded in 1940 by Jack Wyrtzen (1913–1996), which has a considerable success in Ukraine. Very few people, even in the anti-cult camp, would call Baptist churches or mainline missionary groups such as Word of Life “cults.” However, this is what Word of Life is according to the Russian FECRIS. They maneuvered to have it banned as “extremist” in Russia, as well as in the pseudo-republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. Dvorkin’s website still calls it a “totalitarian cult,” Dvorkin acknowledges that Turchynov has internationally recognized credentials as a Baptist minister, but claims he “preaches not like an average Baptist pastor, but much more harshly, manipulatively,” and uses techniques of “manipulation of consciousness.”

The Russian FECRIS also mentions that Leonid Chernovetskyi, another political opponent of Yanukovych, who was major of Kiev between 2006 and 2012 (and later moved to Georgia and became a Georgian citizen) was a member of the Embassy of the Blessed Kingdom of God for All Nations, known in short as Embassy of God, a Pentecostal denomination established in 1993 in Ukraine by Nigerian pastor Sunday Adelaja. The Embassy of God claims some 100,000 members in Ukraine and has expanded into several foreign countries.

Pastor Adelaja supported the Orange Revolution in 2004, something the Russians did not forget. After the Russian invasion of 2022, according to his Facebook page, he was informed by the Ukrainian authorities that he had been placed on a Russian hit list, and had to leave the country. On the other hand, judging from the same Facebook page, Adelaja does not fit the profile of a rabid anti-Russian. He praised Putin for his opposition to same-sex marriage and criticized those who believed Ukraine should join the NATO.

Nonetheless, the fact that the Embassy of God has converted thousands of Ukrainians baptized in the Orthodox Church is enough for the Russian FECRIS activists to identify it as a “cultic” organization. The fact that Adelaja is a “black native of Africa” is also regularly mentioned, with easily detectable racist implications. “Ukrainian Neo-Pentecostals” such as those in the Embassy of God, Dvorkin’s website proclaimed, are not Ukrainian at all. They are “Americans” and evidence that “the West has been diligently introducing, encouraging and financing cultic groups in Russia and the post-Soviet space.”

The third “evidence” the Russian FECRIS organizations offer of the presence of “cults” infiltrated by the West into Ukraine with anti-Russian purposes is that some of the right-wing Ukrainian nationalists opposing Russia are neo-pagans or even “Satanists.” Speaking in November 2014 at a conference in Stavropol, Dvorkin stated that “the neo-pagans were very active on the Maidan,” and that “the neo-pagan project is also sponsored from abroad. This is a very, very serious danger.” At the same conference, as Dvorkin’s website reported, Metropolitan Kirill of Stavropol and Nevinnomyssk, also spoke, and claimed that neo-pagan movements have their “funding roots in the West: this is the work of special services, this is the same as the creation of the NGOs that prepared the Maidan.”

Neo-pagans who dream to restore pre-Christian traditional religions do exist in Ukraine, as they exist in Russia and other countries. Scholars have evaluated their strength in Ukraine between 0.1 and 0.2% of the population. The interest of mentioning Ukrainian neo-pagans for the Russian FECRIS affiliates is that some of them (not all) have right-wing political ideas, and neo-pagan symbols have been used by nationalist militias. Specialized scholars have warned that, apart from the symbols, neo-pagans are a minority (as are neo-Nazis, although they do exist) within nationalist Ukrainian militias, and that there are as many, if not more, neo-Nazis and right-wing neo-pagans fighting for, rather than against, Russia in the Donbass war.

Yet, the Russian FECRIS affiliates offered their supports as “experts of cults” to the campaign depicting Ukraine as dominated by “neo-pagan Nazis” busy destroying its Christian, Orthodox, and Russian identity. They added the preposterous claim that Ukrainian neo-pagans are “sponsored” and “funded” by “the West.” In 2021, Father Alexander Kuzmin, signing as Executive Secretary of the umbrella organization gathering the various FECRIS affiliates in Russia, insisted about the alleged connection between neo-pagan movements and Western intelligence services. He wrote that “some ten years ago, when we, experts on cults, talked about the fact that intelligence services were involved in destructive cults, their creation, promotion and direction of their missionary activity, it sounded like exotic, like declassified counterintelligence information. Now information wars are not surprising to anyone, just as it is not surprising that cults have long become an instrument of political struggle.”

Even Satanists were said to be part of the picture. In 2014, Dvorkin’s website reported that a “Church of Satan” was building a place of worship in the Ukrainian village of Pasty’rskoe. It claimed the temple was being built with the authorization of Ukrainian authorities, and commented that Ukraine was becoming a “laboratory for cults,” and “they are trying in every possible way to reduce the popularity of Orthodoxy.” Unmentioned was that Satanists exist in Russia too. In 2016, a Satanic Church of Russia, established in 2013 and whose leader goes by the name of Oleg Sataninsky was legally registered in Russia—perhaps because Sataninsky expressed his support for Putin’s anti-extremism and anti-proselytization laws.

The triple infiltration into Ukraine, allegedly organized by “the West,” of the Church of Scientology, Evangelical or Pentecostal “totalitarian cults” such as Word of Life or the Embassy of God, and neo-pagans and Satanists, was used by the Russian FECRIS affiliates to slander the Orange Revolution and Euromaidan. The Greek Catholic Church was also attacked as an accomplice. “Maidan was compared by many experts of cults to a well-organized destructive cult,” Dvorkin’s website proclaimed. In 2016, Dvorkin gave a lecture on “Totalitarian Cults and Color Revolutions,” where he explained that “the first Maidan [2004] was made by neo-Pentecostals and they got their own mayor of Kyiv, Leonid Chernovetskyi. The composition of the second ‘Maidan’ is more complex: the Uniate [Greek Catholic] Church, Scientologists, and neo-pagans participated in it.”

FECRIS Russian affiliates did not create the propaganda against Ukraine’s democratic movement. Yet, as “experts on cults” they provided the necessary caution to the theory that “cults” were one of the tools “the West” used to organize this movement, whose aim is to separate Ukraine from Russia. In 2014, they also immediately went to the newly proclaimed pseudo-republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, where “cults” and several Evangelical and Pentecostal churches were banned with the cooperation and applause of the Russian FECRIS, giving a taste of what would happen in a “Russified” Ukraine.

Photo : No friends of Ukraine: anti-cultists Roman Silantyev (left) and Alexander Dvorkin. From Telegram.

Further reading about FORB in Russia on HRWF website





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FRANCE: Une ONG française dénonce l’UNADFI à la Cour nationale des comptes

Une ONG française dénonce l’UNADFI à la Cour nationale des comptes

L’association fondatrice de la FECRIS, l’UNADFI, a fait l’objet d’un signalement officiel à la Cour des comptes française pour mauvaise gestion financière et activités discriminatoires présumées.

CAP LC (29.10.2021) – https://bit.ly/2ZIk1El  – Le 23 septembre 2021, l’association CAP LC (CAP Liberté de conscience), une ONG européenne laïque dotée du statut consultatif auprès des Nations unies, a effectué un signalement à la Cour des comptes française concernant l’association UNADFI (Union nationale des associations de défense des familles et de l’individu victimes de sectes), principale association fondatrice de la Fédération européenne des centres de recherche et d’information sur les sectes (FECRIS).

 

Le rapport officiel a été déposé par le cabinet d’avocats De Guillenchmidt (Michel de Guillenchmidt est un ancien juge du Conseil d’Etat français). Il contient plusieurs accusations graves contre l’UNADFI.

 

L’UNADFI reçoit plus de 75% de ses fonds du gouvernement français, soit une moyenne de 155 000 euros par an. C’est pour cette raison que les finances de l’UNADFI peuvent être soumises à un contrôle public. Selon le rapport, et malgré tous ces financements, l’UNADFI dépense tellement, apparemment sans aucun contrôle financier, qu’elle accuse chaque année un déficit compris entre 150 000 et 285 000 euros. La seule raison pour laquelle elle peut encore fonctionner est qu’elle a vendu son bâtiment en 2013, pour un montant de 1 million 750 000 euros et que cet excédent est utilisé pour couvrir les déficits annuels. Cependant, ce bâtiment avait été payé avec des fonds fournis par le gouvernement, et en dehors de toute préoccupation éthique concernant l’utilisation de l’argent des contribuables pour couvrir leur dette annuelle, cela s’ajoute à l’énorme montant que l’association coûte au contribuable.

 

Le rapport souligne qu’en plus de la mauvaise gestion financière, un autre problème découle du fait que l’activité réelle de l’UNADFI, utilisant des fonds publics, ne peut être quantifiée correctement, et semble être très faible par rapport aux coûts impliqués. Alors que l’UNADFI prétend travailler à la protection des victimes de ce qu’on appelle les “sectes”, la majeure partie de son budget est dépensée pour son personnel et ses administrateurs. 250 000 euros sont versés chaque année à ses quatre membres du personnel à temps plein et un à temps partiel :

 

L’UNADFI fonctionne donc principalement en vase-clos, pour assurer sa propre existence et celle de ses salariés et administrateurs- et les deniers publics sont engloutis sans qu’il soit justifié d’une activité effective, vérifiable et mesurable, et encore mois de résultats concrets.

 

Le rapport souligne également que l’argent dépensé pour payer les avocats pourrait finalement aller dans la poche de l’actuelle présidente de l’UNADFI, Joséphine CESBRON, puisque l’un des avocats habituels de l’UNADFI n’est autre que son mari, Jean-Baptiste CESBRON.

 

En outre, une section entière du rapport est consacrée à l’inefficacité totale de l’activité judiciaire de l’UNADFI.

 

D’abord, la principale activité de l’UNADFI est de se constituer partie civile dans des affaires pour lesquelles des poursuites sont déjà engagées. L’intérêt de telles constitutions de partie civile n’est donc pas évident. L’UNADFI intervient davantage pour tenter de justifier son existence que pour apporter une réelle plus-value dans les instances en cours, surtout lorsque ces affaires n’ont qu’un rapport lointain avec les dérives sectaires.

 

En termes d’activité réelle, ils sont intervenus au cours des 10 dernières années dans seulement sept cas, et seulement deux d’entre eux ont été couronnés de succès, tandis que pour les autres, les défendeurs ont été acquittés. L’UNADFI a même été condamnée pour “abus du droit d’engager une procédure judiciaire”, ce qui a coûté une somme énorme au contribuable.

 

Une autre section du rapport aborde l’aspect du non-respect par l’UNADFI des réglementations gouvernementales en matière de financement public. Soulignant les fautes techniques, cette section encourage la Cour des comptes à examiner s’il y a ou non une “violation massive des règles de financement public”.

 

Enfin, la dernière partie du rapport développe la manière dont l’activité principale de l’UNADFI est discriminatoire envers certaines minorités religieuses,

 

D’abord, l’action de l’UNADFI est contraire aux principes républicains et aux normes conventionnelles supérieures. Il est d’ailleurs tout à fait symptomatique que l’UNADFI s’oppose ouvertement à l’application de la Convention européenne des droits de l’Homme. L’UNADFI admet en effet que son ancienne présidente, Catherine Picard,« [ . …. ]  déplore que la CEDH applique l’article 9 de la Convention européenne sans regarder qui sont les auteurs des faits » ! 

(…)

ensuite, l’action de l’UNADFI révèle une dérive dans l’utilisation des fonds publics. Une association reconnue d’utilité publique et financée quasi-exclusivement par les deniers publics ne devraient pas pouvoir impunément se livrer à des activités et tenir des propos ouvertement discriminatoires. L’UNADFI apparaît ainsi davantage comme un instrument étatique destiné à museler certaines idéologies et croyances qui ne présenteraient pourtant aucun caractère illégal.

 

L’UNADFI a fondé la FECRIS en 1995. La FECRIS a été récemment condamnée par le tribunal de district de Hambourg, en Allemagne, le 27 novembre 2000, pour diffamation à l’encontre des Témoins de Jéhovah. En 2020, l’USCIRF (United States Commission on International Religious Freedom), une commission bipartisane du gouvernement fédéral américain, a qualifié son idéologie de menace majeure pour la liberté religieuse internationale, déclarant également que “le mouvement anti-sectes continue de mener une campagne de désinformation très efficace contre les minorités religieuses avec des conséquences dévastatrices pour leurs droits humains” (voir le livre blanc “L’idéologie anti-sectes et la FECRIS : Dangers pour la liberté religieuse” ici).

 

Le rapport complet de CAP LC en français est disponible ici sur son site web.

 

HRWF suivra les résultats de l’examen du rapport par la Cour nationale des comptes française. Cependant, la Cour n’est pas tenue de rendre ses conclusions publiques.

 

Photo : fr.wikipedia.org

Further reading about FORB in France on HRWF website


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