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82 Ukrainian academics denounce FECRIS for its links with Moscow

On 18 November, Bitter Winter published an article titled “82 Ukrainian Academics Ask France to Stop Supporting the Anti-Cult Federation FECRISrevealing that virtually all Ukrainian scholars of religion wrote to President Macron denouncing the complicity between Western anti-cultists and their Russian homologues who keep slandering Ukraine

Emmanuel Macron
Président de la République Française
Palais de l’Élysée
75008 Paris

Kiyv, November 11, 2022

Copy to:
Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine
Vadym Omeltchenko, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to France
Etienne de PONCINS, Ambassador of France in Ukraine

Re: Funding of FECRIS association by France

Dear Mr President,

We are a group of Ukrainian scholars and human rights defenders, most of us currently based in Ukraine. We want to start this letter by saying that we deeply appreciate the help that France is providing to our country, in the most difficult situation that we are facing during these terrible times for our people.

Nevertheless, we would like to draw your attention on the following facts. At the Human Dimension Conference organized by the OSCE in Warsaw, on September 28 and 29, France has been publicly asked by NGOs to stop funding FECRIS (European Federation of Research and Information Centers on Sects and Cults), a French umbrella organization that gathers “anti-cult” organizations throughout Europe and is mainly funded by France.

What was reproached as regards FECRIS, besides its discriminatory activities against any religious minorities that they falsely label as “cults”, was the fact that for years it has supported its Russian branch, whilst that branch is a key and constant actor in the Kremlin’s propaganda against Ukraine, its government and its people.

The French Permanent Representation at OSCE issued a right of reply, and instead of answering on the merits of the criticism, only stated that “FECRIS is an association providing assistance to victims of sectarian aberrations. It is as such that it is supported by the French government, which intends to continue supporting its activities”. We deeply regret that the French representation did not take seriously the facts that were denounced during this conference.

Unfortunately, the support of FECRIS to Russian propaganda against Ukraine is very well documented. It started long time ago. Alexander Dvorkin, Vice President of FECRIS from 2009 to 2021 and currently a board member, has been barred from entering Ukraine since 2014, because he was a very rabid anti-Ukrainian propagandist, spreading on Russian State TV that Ukrainian authorities were a bunch of “cult-followers” controlled by cults and the West. He was one of the first calling the Maidan authorities “Neo-Pagans” and “Nazis”. Since, he made visits to the self-proclaimed “Luhansk People’s Republic” and continued its propaganda against Ukraine there, in addition to Russia.

Alexander Novopashin, an official representative of FECRIS in Russia, is almost every day in Russian medias accusing Ukrainians to be “satanists” to be fought by the Russian troops, and even depicts us as “cannibals”, praising the Russian government for the holy fight they are conducting in our territories. He even justified publicly the Russian invasion in Ukraine with these words: “Any disease must be cured, and, alas, if a person has gangrene, you have to take away its hand, and resort to surgical methods.”

FECRIS association “the Saratov branch of the Center for Religious Studies”, located in Saratov, just after the beginning of the war, published a call to denunciate to them any “provocateur” that would pretend that Russia triggered war, or were advocating for peace, so that they could liaise with Russian law enforcement agencies to take care of them.

These are only few examples amongst dozens which have been documented.

Now, FECRIS took off their website the names of their Russian associations and are pretending that in fact they would support Ukraine. They don’t and those are false pretenses. In fact, per the last documents that they filed to the French authorities, Alexander Dvorkin is still a member of their board of administration. They never distanced themselves from the actions of their Russian members. They never publicly sanctioned Alexander Dvorkin or other Russian members for the evil acts they committed recently and during these last years. To the opposite they supported them whatever they were doing. Now they say on their website that they also have Ukrainian branches as evidence that they would not support the Kremlin propaganda. What they forgot to say, is that they have two associations members of FECRIS in Ukraine, one of them being pro-Russian, and the other one being inactive for a decade while it is well-known for its discriminatory statements against minority religions, and it never publicly distanced itself from the Russian FECRIS.

Additionally, according to reports published by Chinese official sources, as late as July 15, 2022, FECRIS’ treasurer Didier Pachoud and his FECRIS affiliate organization GEMPPI hosted in a conference in Paris Roman Silantyev, one of the Russian anti-cultists who claim that Ukrainian leaders are inspired by “occult and pagan” ideologies, and infiltrate “Satanists” into Russia for purposes of sabotage and terrorism.

That is why we respectfully ask you to make sure that France stops funding such an association which is an enemy of the West and democracy and has worked hand in hand with the Russian authorities against Ukraine. We hope that you will take this letter seriously and will consider its merits. It might look unimportant, but it’s important to realize that Vladimir Putin has now adopted FECRIS theories accusing the West of “Satanism”, and that they are part of his state propaganda apparatus.

Thank you very much for your help on this important matter.

Respectfully,

Anatoly Kolodny
President of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, Doctor of Philosophy, Professor, Chief Scientific Officer, Department of Religious Studies, Institute of Philosophy, NASU (National Academy of Science of Ukraine)

Lyudmila Filipovych
Vice-president of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, Doctor of Philosophy, professor, head of the Department of Philosophy and History of Religion, Institute of Philosophy, NASU

Alexander Sagan
Vice-President of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, Doctor of Philosophy, Professor, Head of the Department of Religious Studies of the Institute of Philosophy of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

Petro Yarotskyi
Doctor of Philosophy, professor, leading scientist. Department of Religious Studies, Institute of Philosophy, NASU

Alla Aristova
Doctor of Philosophy, professor, Department of Religious Studies, Institute of Philosophy, NASU

Vita Tytarenko
Doctor of Philosophy, professor, Department of Religious Studies, Institute of Philosophy, NASU

Pavlo Pavlenko
Doctor of Philosophy, professor, Department of Religious Studies, Institute of Philosophy, NASU

Oleg Buchma
Ph.D., Department of Religious Studies, Institute of Philosophy of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

Dmytro Bazik
Ph.D., Department of Religious Studies, Institute of Philosophy of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

Anna Kulagina
Ph.D., Department of Religious Studies, Institute of Philosophy of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

Gorkusha Oksana
Ph.D., Department of Religious Studies, Institute of Philosophy of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

Serhii Zdioruk
Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy, head of department Institute of Strategic Studies under the President of Ukraine

Viktor Yelenskyi
Doctor of Philosophy, professor, head of the scientific department of the Institute of Ethnopolitics of NASU

Oleksandr Utkin
Doctor of History, Prof.

Petro Mazur
Ph.D. Doctor of Medicine, director of the Kremenets Medical School

Leonid Vyhovskyi
Doctor of Philosophy, head of department of philosophy, Khmelnytskyi University of Management and Law, head of the UAR of Khmelnytskyi (Ukrainian Academy of Religious Studies)

Vitaly Dokash
Doctor of Philosophy, professor, head of UAR Chernivtsi.

Eduard Martyniuk
Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy, Assoc. professor, ONU (Odesa National University)

Tetiana Gavrylyuk
Doctor of Philosophy, Academy of Statistics

Vitaliy Matveev
Doctor of Philosophy, head of department, University of Bioresources

Ella Bystrytska
Doctor of Science, professor, head of the department, Ternopil Volodymyr Hnatiuk National Pedagogical University

Olena Nikitchenko
Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy, Associate Professor, Odesa Academy

Volodymyr Lubsky
Doctor of Philosophy, prof.

Tatyana Gorbachenko
Doctor of Philosophy, prof.

Ihor Kozlovsky
Ph.D. Doctor of sciences, associate professor of science, Department of Religious Studies, Institute of Philosophy of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

Lesya Skubko
Member of UARR

Iryna Fenno
Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy, Assoc. prof. of religious studies of KNU (Kiev National University)

Iryna Klimuk
Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophical Sciences

Nadia Stokolos
Dr. Doctor of History, Prof.

Olga Gold
Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy, Assoc., Odesa

Mykhailo Murashkin
Dr. Ph.D., prof. Dnipro, Academy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, head of the UAR of the Dnipro Oblast

Evgeny Kononenko
Department of Religious Studies, Institute of Philosophy of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

Oksana Vynnychenko
Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy, USA

Serhiy Prysukhin
Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy, prof. KPBA (Kyiv Orthodox Theological Academy)

Hanna Tregub
Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy, journalist

Ageev Vyacheslav
Co-founder of the Workshop for the Academic Study of Religion (WASR)

Alla Kiridon
Doctor of science, professor, director of VUE (the Great Ukrainian Encyclopedia, State institution)

Taras Bednarchyk
Ph.D., associate professor, Vinnytsia Medical University

Ruslana Martych
Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy, associate professor, KU Grinchenko (Borys Hrinchenko Kyiv University)

Oleksandr Horban
Ph.D., prof. KU Grinchenko (Borys Hrinchenko Kyiv University)

Maria Bardyn
Doctor of Philosophical Sciences, Department of Religion, Kyiv Region.

Volodymyr Verbytskyi
Doctor of Philosophy, KNU (Kiev National University)

Alyona Leshchenko
Doctor of Philosophy, prof. Kherson University

George Pankov
Doctor of Philosophy, professor, Kharkiv National University

Victoria Lyubashchenko
Prof. UKU (Ukrainian Catholic University)

Dmytro Gorevoy
Director of the Center for Religious Security NGO. Head of projects and programs of the Institute of Religion and Society of the Ukrainian Catholic University.

Yaroslav Yuvsechko
Doctor of Philosophy, Associate Professor, Khmelnytskyi University

Serhiy Geraskov
Ph.D. philos., Kyiv

Ivan Mozgovyi
Doctor of Philosophy, professor, Sumy

Yury Vilkhovy
Ph.D. History, Associated professor, Poltava Pedagogical University

Olga Dobrodum
Doctor of Philosophy, professor at the University of Bioresources

Said Ismagilov
Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy, former mufti of the “UMMA” Council

Yury Kovalenko
Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy, Rector of the Open Orthodox University

Roman Nazarenko
Ph.D., UKU (Ukrainian Catholic University)

Oleg Sokolovsky
Doctor of Philosophy, prof., Zhytomyr Ivan Franko State University

Oleg Yarosh
Ph.D., NASU, Kyiv

Maxim Doychik
Doctor of Philosophy, head department of philosophy of the Carpathian National University (Ivano-Frankivsk)

Yuriy Boreyko
Doctor of Philosophy, head department Eastern Europe University named after L. Ukrainki (Lutsk)

Olga Borisova
Doctor of History, Professor, Kharkiv Institute of Culture

Alexander Lakhno
Ph.D. history of sciences, vice-rector of the Poltava Pedagogical University

Larisa Vladychenko
Dr. Ph.D., prof., head Department Secretariat of the Cabinet of Ministers

Serhiy Shumylo
Doctor of History, director of the Athos Heritage Institute

Vadim Sliusar
Doctor in Politics. Prof. Zhytomyr

Vasyl Popovych
Dr. Doctor of Philosophy, professor, Zaporizhzhia

Mykola Kozlovets
Dr. Doctor of Philosophy, prof., Zhytomyr

Nadiya Volik
Doctor of History, associate professor, Ternopil Volodymyr Hnatiuk National Pedagogical University

Yulia Shabanova
Doctor of Philosophy, Prof. Head of the Department of Philosophy and Pedagogy of the National Mining University “Dniprov Polytechnic”

Pavlo Yamchuk
Doctor of Philosophy, Prof., Uman National University, University of Horticulture

Maxim Vasin
Bachelor of Laws, executive Director of the IRS (Institute of Religious Freedom)

Nadia Rusko
Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy, Associate Professor of the Department of Social Sciences, Ivano-Frankivsk National Technical University of Oil and Gas

Andriy Tyshchenko
Doctor of Philosophy, Kharkiv

Volodymyr Popov
Doctor of Philosophy, Professor, Donetsk University, Vinnytsia

Lyudmila Babenko
Doctor of History, Prof. Poltava Pedagogical University

Oleksandra Kovalenko
Kyiv, Open Orthodox University

Natalya Pavlyk
Institute of Pedagogical Education of NASU

Ruslan Khalikov
Ph.D. in religious studies, member of UARR (Ukrainian Association of Religious Studies), WASR (Workshop for the Academic Study of Religions), publisher.

Vitalii Shchepanskyi
Ph.D. in religious studies, member of WASR.

Anton Leshchynskyi 
MA in religious studies, member of WASR.

Ihor Kolesnyk
PhD, assistant professor, Ivan Franko National University of Lviv

Uliana Sevastianiv
Ph. D. in religious studies, member of WASR, lecturer of the Stepan Gzhytskyi National University of Veterinary Medicine and Biotechnology of Lviv

Oleg Kyselov
Ph.D. in religious studies, member of WASRr and UARR, Senior Researcher, Skovoroda Institute of Philosophy, NASU.

Olena Mishalova
Ph.D. in social philosophy and philosophy of history, member of WASR, associate professor, Kryvyi Rih State Pedagogical University.

Olha Mukha
Ph.D. in philosophy, member of WASR, Head of Educational and Informational Department of Memorial Museum “Territory of Terror”

Photo : Yehor Milohrodskyi – Unsplash

Further reading about FORB in Ukraine on HRWF website

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