Identity

Russian Links of World Congress of Families

30 May, 2018

In 2014, Shaltai Boltai, an anonymous hacking group, hacked the emails of Georgy Gavrish, a former official with the Russian Embassy to Greece and longtime member of the "Eurasianist" movement, and posted the correspondence online. The emails included frequent correspondence between senior Russian figures, such as Alexander Dugin, leader of the “Eurasianist” movement; Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeev and Alexey Komov, an official representative of Russia to the World Congress of Families, a U.S.-based organization.

World Congress of Families (WCF) is an American-based Christian evangelical organization. WCF is dedicated to halting the spread of LGBT rights overseas in the name of the defense of the “natural family,” which they define as a husband and wife and their biological children.

Russia

Komov has been the WCF’s representative in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States for close to two decade and is deeply intertwined with various key figures within the Russian Orthodox Church. In 2014 Komov was planning to conduct WCF’s annual congress in Moscow. Like every year, the congress would unite anti-LGBT activists and politicians from all over the world. But in February 2014, Russia’s invasion of Crimean territory in eastern Ukraine put a damper on those plans. The E.U. and the United States faced off against Russia’s desire to expand its influence and territory in Ukraine. As retaliation after the Crimean invasion, the U.S. and E.U. decided to sanction the high-level individuals who had been involved in the invasion, in which many WCF allies and backers soon found themselves embroiled.

For fear of American sanctions, the WCF’s American leadership publicly dropped its affiliation to the congress. Despite WCF officially pulling out, behind closed doors, a nearly identical conference was held the same day with a similar program, similar attendees, and — initially — the WCF listed as organizers. Though Komov mentioned the WCF were organizers in the media, Jacobs maintained it was not.

The emails hacked by Shaltai Boltai have revealed that in September 2014 a young woman, who participated in an international forum “Large Family and Future of Humanity” held in Moscow a week ago, wrote to Alexey Komov. According to the correspondence, upon her return to the United States, she appeared under constant surveillance by security services. Komov sent the message to Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeev and offered to seize upon the opportunity and file a lawsuit in American court. Komov claimed that it would help reveal the facts of unhidden persecution of Christians in the West and cause uproar. He also noted that the U.S.-based Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), one of the strongest groups defending the rights of Christians, should be used for this purpose. The group is also famous for inciting hatred.

It was just Konstantin Malofeev who financed the forum “Large Family and Future of Humanity” held in Moscow in 2014. The Russian oligarch is the founder of Marshall Capital, one of the leading investment groups; he also chairs St Basil the Great Charitable Foundation with the budget exceeding USD 40 million. Konstantin Malofeev promotes the idea of restoration of Russian Empire and Monarchy. For this purpose, he founded the school of St Basil the Great, where young people are trained for the future “Russian Monarchy.” Zurab Chavchavadze, the principal of the school, claims that “new elite” is being raised there. For his role in Crimea’s annexation and subsequent referendum, Malofeev was sanctioned by the U.S.and the E.U.

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Zurab Chavchavadze, the principal of the school opened by Konstantin Malofeev.

One of the supporters of WCF in Russia, is hard-right parliamentarian Elena Mizulina, author of the infamous 2013 law banning “propaganda for non-traditional sexual relations” which led to a doubling of hate crimes against LGBT people in the five years since the law’s passage.

Another person with links to WCF is Alexander Dugin, founder of the “Eurasianist” movement and ultranationalist philosopher, who held an Eurasian conference in Moldova in December 2017, where it was announced that Moldova would also be the location of the next WCF congress, slated for September 2018.Alexander Dugin also serves as the editorial director of Malofeev’s far-right Tsargrad TV channel.

Dugin’s Eurasian idea promotes Russian expansion and Russia’s superior spiritual and political role on the Eurasian continent. It is based on Russian orthodox vision. Inspired with Nazi Germany’s idea, Dugin believes that the Eurasian continent should be the federation of countries led by Russia. Alexander Dugin considers White Nationalists as potential allies of the Eurasian project, because they are traditionalists. For his role in Crimea’s annexation and his actions against Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, Dugin was sanctioned by the United States.

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Photo: Alexander Dugin, 2008, Russian aggression in Georgia – Tskhinvali Region

 

Dugin’s Eurasian Conference was hosted in Chisinau by Moldovan President Igor Dodon, who is famous for his pro-Russian sentiments. Alexey Komov, as well as Georgian businessman Levan Vasadze attended the conference from the World Congress of Families. Later, Levan Vasadze hosted Moldovan President Igor Dodon in Georgia.

Georgia

Businessman Levan Vasadze, who amassed his wealth in Russia, represents the World Congress of Families (WCF) in Georgia. The 10th anniversary congress of WCF titled “Civilization at the Crossroads: The Natural Family as The Bulwark of Freedom and Human Values” was held in Tbilisi on May 15-17, 2016. The event was organized and hosted by Levan Vasadze. Speaking at the congress, Vasadze made homophobic statements containing anti-Western and pro-Russian sentiments.

Levan Vasadze: “Together with Russian people, we got rid of and defeated first fascism and then communism, both of which came from the West. Earlier, Christian Russia helped Christian Georgia survive the destruction. But it was achieved at the expense of abolition of Georgian Kingdom and Autocephaly.”

Georgian Patriarch Ilia II, clergy and Nino Burjanadze, leader of a pro-Russian political party United Democratic Movement, also attended the event.

A Georgian-language Facebook page of the World Congress of Families has over 23 700 followers. The page actively posts Levan Vasadze’s statements as well as extracts from his speech at the 2016 congress.

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The Iakob Gogebashvili School was founded in 2009; it is owned by Levan Vasadze’s wife, Nino Durglishvili. According to the information provided on the school’s official website, its vision is based on Georgian, Orthodox, traditional values. The school granted scholarships for 2017-2018 only to the 8th grade boys. It cited gender balance as the reason behind its decision because the 8th grade boys suffered from discomfort and oppression due to being in the minority. The Georgian Public Defender recommended the school to observe the principle of equality and eradicate gender stereotypes.

Levan Vasadze is one of the founders of Georgian Demographic Society XXI. In 2015, Georgian Dream lawmaker, Soso Jachvliani, submitted two legislative initiatives developed by Georgian Demographic Society XXI to the Parliament: one concerned removing terms “sexual orientation” and “gender” from the Anti-Discrimination Law, whereas another one demanded to make “insult of religious feelings” punishable by the Administrative Code of Georgia.

European Countries

In April 2017, the former French WCF representative, Fabrice Sorlin, organized the first WCF regional conference in Paris. The conference covered the following panels:

  • Tactics and strategies of the gay lobby at the European Union
  • Georgia’s Liberal Experience
  • Russian Revival in the 21st century
  • Europe or European Union – which way for Serbia?
  • The aggressive anti-family policy of the European Union as a factor in destruction of Ukrainian statehood

Sorlin is the former head of a brutal Catholic militia Dies Irae, whose mission was to prepare white French Catholic youth for a civil war against immigrants, black people and Muslims.

Sorlin also presided over the French group, Alliance France Europe Russia (AAFER). As historians Jean-Yves Camus and Nicolas Lebourg suggest, the AAFER was key in pushing the French far-right party, the National Front led by Marine Le Pen, toward Russia. In 2014, Malofeev facilitated a loan of 2 million euros to the Le Pen’s party from a Russian bank.

Italy, Cyprus, Austria, Bulgaria and Spain. Alexey Komov facilitated meetings between Konstantin Malofeev and European far-right and far-left political figures. In his correspondence with Georgy Gavrish, a former official with the Russian Embassy to Greece, Alexey Komov names Roberto Fiore, co-founder of Italian neo-fascist party, as “a pro-Russian Italian friend”. In turn, Roberto Fiore linked Komov with Cyprus-based far-right party ELAM. This fact indicates at some links between the World Congress of Families (WCF) and European violent far-right political actors.

As the cache of emails showed, Malofeev has also been a key agent in spreading Russian influence in various European countries. Malofeev sponsored a secret meeting for far-right parties in early March 2014 in Vienna which he attended alongside Alexander Dugin. The meeting included Heinz-Christian Strache of the far-right Austrian party the FPÖ and presently Austria’s vice-chancellor; the french National Front representative, as well as far-right groups ranging from Bulgaria and Spain.

In Ukraine, the World Congress of Families was involved in encouraging separate groups and sowing fear about the European Union allegedly imposing LGBT rights on Ukraine.

Under Komov’s leadership, the WCF sent a delegation to Ukraine in October 2013 which met with All Ukrainians’ Parents Committee representatives as well as some of the members of the Ukrainian parliament.After the meeting, the committee members declared that they oppose the signing of the association agreement with the EU, because it will lead to the inevitable “Homosexualizing of Ukraine”.

Prepared on the basis of materials provided by the Southern Poverty Law Center