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FECRIS under fire: 82 prominent Ukrainian scholars ask MACRON to stop funding it

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Jan Leonid Bornstein
Jan Leonid Bornstein
Jan Leonid Bornstein is investigative reporter for The European Times

On November 11, 82 of the most prominent religious scholars of Ukraine, including the President of the National Academy of Science of Ukraine, and many other big names, wrote a letter to the French President Emmanuel Macron about the funding of FECRIS. FECRIS is an umbrella organization that gathers “anticult” associations all over Europe, including in Russia. It’s far decried for its discriminatory activities against new religions, and has been convicted by several courts in Europe for those. And in fact, it’s entirely funded by the French government.

The point of the letter is to raise awareness of the strong support that FECRIS has provided to its Russian members, and to the Kremlin in their outrageous propaganda against Ukraine and the West. It’s true that by funding this organization which still has members in Russia calling to hate and war against the Ukrainian depicted as “Satanists” and “cult members”, is contradictory with the political and financial support of Ukraine by the current French government. By funding FECRIS, France funds its own enemy, the enemy of Ukraine and the enemy of Europe.

Here is the full letter with signatories:

Logo UAR - FECRIS under fire: 82 prominent Ukrainian scholars ask MACRON to stop funding it
FECRIS under fire: 82 prominent Ukrainian scholars ask MACRON to stop funding it

M. Emmanuel Macron

Président de la République Française

Palais de l’Élysée

75008 Paris

Kiev, 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-cults” organizations throughout Europe and is mainly funded by France.

What was reproached as regards FECRIS, besides its discriminatory activities against any religious minority 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”

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