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exclusiveHow the French MIVILUDES compromised itself with Russian extremists

How the French MIVILUDES compromised itself with Russian extremists

MIVILUDES is the acronym for "Inter-ministerial mission for monitoring and combating cultic deviances", a French government controversial agency belonging to the French Ministry of Interior.

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Jan Leonid Bornstein
Jan Leonid Bornstein
Jan Leonid Bornstein is investigative reporter for The European Times. He has been investigating and writing about extremism since the beginning of our publication. His work has shed light on a variety of extremist groups and activities. He is a determined journalist who go after dangerous or controversial topics. His work has had a real-world impact in exposing situations with an out of the box thinking.

MIVILUDES is the acronym for "Inter-ministerial mission for monitoring and combating cultic deviances", a French government controversial agency belonging to the French Ministry of Interior.

MIVILUDES (acronym for French Inter-ministerial mission for monitoring and combating cultic deviances) is a government agency belonging to the French Ministry of Interior, tasked with reporting on, and fighting against, what they call “cultic deviances”, a term that has no legal definition but means in fact that they are fighting against movements they consider to be “cults”. They have complete arbitrary autonomy to determine which religion, movement or spirituality should be included in that concept.

Throughout the years, the French MIVILUDES has been working shoulder to shoulder with FECRIS (European Federation of Research and Information Centers on Sects and Cults), an umbrella organization funded by the French government, that gathers and coordinates “anti-cult” organizations throughout Europe and beyond. Unfortunately for French officials, throughout the years, they have supported and shared panels with Russian members of FECRIS, most of them being Russian Orthodox extremists with a very anti-Western and anti-Ukrainian agenda.

The symposiums

Every year, FECRIS organises a symposium with the participation of the MIVILUDES’ representatives.

In 2021 in Bordeaux, France, the newly appointed Chief of Miviludes Hanène Romdhane participated to the FECRIS symposium, along with Alexander Dvorkin, Vice-President of FECRIS. Dvorkin has been described by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan governmental entity, as a threat to religious freedom to be publicly censured for his ongoing disinformation campaigns against religious minorities. He has been one of the main propagandists against Ukraine for years, spreading that the Ukrainians’ appetite for liberal democracy was the product of various “cults” working for the West. Dvorkin also heads organizations that gather information on Russian dissidents and opponents to the war to share them with police and FSB. He is also known for his anti-gay[1], anti-Muslim[2] and anti-Hindus diatribes[3], as well as for considering that the only acceptable religion is the one professed by the Russian Orthodox Church – Moscow Patriarchate and that almost any other Christian movement is part of a cult.

In 2019, in Paris, the representative of the MIVILUDES, Anne-Marie Courage, also shared the stage with Alexander Dvorkin.

In 2018, in Riga, Latvia, the representative of the MIVILUDES, Laurence Peyron, also shared the stage with Alexander Dvorkin.

In 2017, the Secretary General of the MIVILUDES, Anne Josso, shared the stage in Brussels with Dvorkin and Alexander Korelov, Dvorkin’s personal lawyer. Korelov is known for his theoretical developments on the “war of information”. For example, he explained that the fall of Spain in the 8th century was because of the “Jews, who generally and openly supported” the Arab conquerors. [4] For him, only a Christian State (to be understood as orthodox only) can create a civilization. As regards Ukraine, he declared that while the Ukrainians were certainly not “combat-ready”, they “howl much better than gay Europeans”.[5] He also advocates to denounce at once any “cult activities” to the FSB,[6] which includes (as for some of his fellow FECRIS members) not only Pentecostals, Baptists, Jehovah Witnesses, Hindus, etc., but also Orthodox “dissidents”, not aligned with the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. For him, these same “cults” are responsible for the fact that Ukraine emancipated itself from Russia, a serious crime in his mind.

In 2016 in Sofia, the former President of the MIVILUDES, Serge Blisko, shared the stage with Dvorkin and Roman Silantiev. The latter was appointed to Alexander Dvorkin’s deputy as head of the Expert Council on Religion at the Russian Ministry of Justice, and recently, in June 2022, went to the self-proclaimed Republic of Luhansk (Ukrainian territory occupied by Russian forces) to teach seminars on “destructology, cults, Satanism, and terrorism”. During his presentation, after calling the Ukrainian leadership “neopagan and occult”, he announced that soon Ukraine will no longer exist as an independent state and added “no one will need a Ukrainian Church in the unliberated Ukraine. Normal people there will go underground and will just wait for the Russian military to arrive.”[7] Already on March 18, 2022, Silantiev stated that it was “better [for Russia] to hit first”, after having explained that what the media described as school shootings by disturbed teenagers in Russia had been organized by “the centers of information and psychological operations of the Armed Forces of Ukraine”. He then envisioned “the upcoming parade of victory over Ukrainian Nazism”.[8]

In 2015 in Marseille, in 2014 in Brussels, in 2013 in Copenhagen and in 2012 in Salses-le-Chateau, Serge Blisko shared the stage with Dvorkin again. In 2012, Georges Fenech, the then outgoing president of the MIVILUDES, was also present, as well as attending with Dvorkin a 2011 symposium in Warsaw.

In 2011, Fenech also shared the stage with Alexander Novopashin, number 2 of the Russian FECRIS organisation. Novopashin calls Ukrainians “Nazis”, “Satanists” and “cannibals”, drives with a huge “Z” printed on his car[9], insists that Western cults were behind the Euromaidan and Ukrainian authorities, that “the special operation of denazification is carried out not only to destroy the hydra in its lair, but to  protect the whole Russian world”, and that  “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.”[10]

Support of the Russian occupation of Crimea by a MIVILUDES’ current member and former President

Fenech was replaced as President of MIVILUDES in 2013 but came back to join its Orientation Council in 2021. Nevertheless, his acquaintance with the Putin’s regime had not stopped in the meantime. In 2019, he was part of a delegation led by French MP Thierry Mariani that visited the occupied Crimea, a trip paid and organized by Russians (The “Russian Fund for Peace”, according to Mariani). They were received by Leonid Slutsky, Chairman of the Committee on International Affairs in the Russian State Duma, and Vladimir Konstantinov, a Crimean MP who is accused of high treason in Ukraine, sanctioned by the European Union since 2014, and a strong supporter of Putin and the Russian annexation of Crimea. The purpose for the French delegation was to testify about how well Crimea was doing under Russian occupation. When journalists asked Mariani who was part of the delegation[11], Georges Fenech asked him to lie and say that he was not there, which Mariani reluctantly accepted to do. Unfortunately, French journalists from Liberation had recognized Fenech in a Russian documentary that flanked the visit, and Mariani had to admit Fenech was part of the delegation which had even met Vladimir Putin himself in Simferopol.

Picture of the French delegation in occupied Crimea, with Georges Fenech, former President of MIVILUDES, in the back.

At that time, the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs had strongly condemned this trip, considering the actions of these French politicians as direct connivance with the aggressor in “his unacceptable policy of expansionism, intolerance and discrimination, the militarization of Crimea and the creation of security threats in the region of the Black and Azov Seas, as well as massive and systematic violations of human rights on the occupied Crimean Peninsula.”

Concluding remarks

It is fairly certain that the current MIVILUDES is not an outspoken supporter of the Russian aggression in Ukraine, nor of its propagandists, per se. It’s also quite certain that the current Macron government would not provide any support for Moscow’s propagandists, should they realize that they have some in their ranks. Nevertheless, MIVILUDES continues to list FECRIS on its website as international partners, despite being informed about the extremist position of their Russian members for years.

The current war in Ukraine is not the product of a one-week preparation. It has been prepared with more than a decade of propaganda, and in fact started already in 2014 with the invasion and occupation of Crimea, and the support and participation of Russia to the war in Donbass. This should have been a strong warning light for the French MIVILUDES with regards to collaborating with Russian propagandists spreading hate of the West on behalf of the Kremlin. Surprisingly, given all the above, there has been no public announcement by MIVILUDES distancing itself from FECRIS and its hatemongers.

[1] https://www.newsweek.com/russia-reinstates-yoga-prisoners-after-claims-it-can-make-inmates-gay-1388664

[2] https://web.archive.org/web/20210423153211/https://echo.msk.ru/blog/stiepanov75/1031470-echo/

[3] https://www.newsweek.com/hindu-russia-orthodox-cult-religion-789860

[4] https://ansobor.ru/news.php?news_id=5553

[5] Idem

[6] https://buhconsul.ru/sekty-kak-instrument-informacionnyh-voin-i-razrusheniya-socialnogo/

[7] https://bitterwinter.org/anti-cult-indoctrination-for-students-ukraine/

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

[9] The letter « Z » is a symbol painted on vehicles of the Russian army since the invasion of Ukraine started, and became a symbol for supporters of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

[10] https://www.nsk.kp.ru/daily/27409/4608079/

[11] https://www.liberation.fr/checknews/2019/03/16/qui-sont-les-elus-francais-actuellement-en-visite-en-crimee-avec-thierry-mariani_1715354/

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