He has asked his son to delete his Facebook post about his visit to Harbin and now claims the trip has been invented by “Ukrainian media.”
by Massimo Introvigne
In July, Bitter Winter reported that Orthodox Archpriest and Russian anti-cultist Alexander Novopashin, part of the European anti-cult federation FECRIS until March 2023, had been invited to China for an anti-Falun-Gong conference in Harbin, and published the corresponding letter of invitation.
We observed that this would be yet another instance in which Russian anti-cultists would support the bloody Chinese repression of Falun Gong, denounced as a crime against humanity by several foreign countries and international organizations. We wrote in that article that “We publish it [the letter] as it looks authentic to us [as does the official Chinese stamp] but will be of course glad to correct ourselves in case Archpriest Novopashin would deny its content.”
Archpriest Novopashin is a faithful reader of “Bitter Winter,” as he quotes and criticizes us frequently. However, the article was published on July 7, and the Archpriest did not react in any way.
On September 9, we reported that Novopashin’s son Kirill had posted on August 17 on his Facebook account an account of his father’s visit to China. Kirill said that “father visited China most recently” (Совсем недавно отец побывал в Китае.) The Facebook post continued by explaining that Novopashin “was invited by his colleagues to share his experience in confronting extremist groups and cults,” and “met with the leadership of China’s law enforcement agencies.” “My father had pleasant impressions from his trip to Harbin” (От поездки в Харбин у отца остались приятные впечатления), Kirill concluded, he was just disturbed that “the U.S. State Department website BITTER WINTER” (capitals in original) had published the letter of invitation.
Another nine days passed without reaction to our September 9 article. On September 19, Novopashin had several Russian media publish articles where he claimed that the letter of invitation was a “fake,” that he “has not been in China since 2019,” and that “what Bitter Winter published is a lie, a fake about me and my son.” Simultaneously, Kirill Novopashin deleted his August 17 post from Facebook (something we anticipated, and of course we had captured a screenshot).
Perhaps Novopashin did not go to China. We told him since July that we would be glad to publish a denial, and we do it now.
However, the denial is interesting both for what it says and for what it does not say. It does not say that Novopashin’s son did not post what it posted on Facebook on August 17, and it does not say that the Facebook profile “Kirill Novopashin” is a fake. Indeed, fake profiles are not unknown on Facebook. However, the profile of Kirill exists since 2013, and it has published throughout the years several pictures of Alexander and Kirill Novopashin, their trips, their families, and the awards Alexander received, which have not been published elsewhere. To argue that the profile is a fake, one should maintain that somebody since 2013 regularly stole family memoirs of the Novopashins and posted them on Facebook, without protests from them. Why should somebody do this? Just to prepare (for ten years) a fake post on China in 2023? Kirill’s profile has not been hacked and all the other posts since August 17, including propaganda for his father, are still there.
It is good that even Novopashin regards it as shameful to go to China to support the CCP crimes against Falun Gong and prefers to deny it happened. However, in the articles inspired by him, the titles refer to “Ukrainian websites” spreading the news about his Harbin trip, and attribute this to Novopashin’s support of Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine. It is argued that criticizing Novopashin is a reaction to the fact that he successfully prevented music from Ukrainian composers and Western composers who support Ukraine to be performed in Russia.
It is time for a family meeting between Novopashin and his son where they can discuss whether “Bitter Winter” is an American or a Ukrainian website (clue: it is neither). To be on the safer side, we recommend they do not post anything about this discussion on Facebook.