Is Sorbonne University promoting “Russkiy Mir” through culture?

March 27,2023 372
Is Sorbonne University promoting “Russkiy Mir” through culture?

The Département des Langues (The Language Department) of the Sorbonne University in Paris regularly hosts discussions with French journalists and writers focused on books about travels in Russia. 

On March 22, Sorbonne hosted a “The Call of the Sea” discussion with Cédric Gra about his trip to the Russian Far East, the White Sea, the Urals, and other distant lands. On April 5, a meeting with Jean-Louis Gouraud, author of Paris-Moscow on Horseback: The Extraordinary Journey of Jean-Louis Gouraud, is scheduled. Both writers have openly expressed sympathy for Russia in their books and have not changed their position even now, amid Russia’s terrorist full-scale invasion of Ukrainian sovereignty. 

“It seems Russians do not want to share their secret world, yet it [sharing] is necessary. And not only because Putin decided so. I favor having Russian cultural centers abroad, but for this to happen, Russians must dare to say, ‘Look how wonderful we are,'” Cédric Gra says in an interview with the Moldovan online publication  

Jean-Louis Gouraud’s work is also not limited to his passion for horseback traveling. “This book is not only about hiking, horseman’s profession’s complexities and horses, but also about friendship with wonderful Russian people who opened up Russia to me, its history, culture, and art and inspired me to do all my searches and deeds,” says Gouraud in the book’s annotation

“Behind every discourse for peace is conscious or subconscious Russian propaganda. We should not give in to the narrative that the Russian government is bad, but the people are good. Russians are the ones doing everything Russia is doing today,” – said Daniel Sztul, spokesman for the Board of the Ukrainians Union in France.

According to Mr. Sztul, despite the clearly expressed position of the French authorities and civil society in support of Ukraine, there is a tendency to separate the concepts of Russia as a state and people who “do not want war.”

“Sorbonne University has long been known for its Russophilia. The academic circle is another one of those where Russian propaganda is active. Under the name of humanism, education, and culture, they are trying to make us supporters or even part of the “Russkiy Mir.” We will not allow this to happen, and we will react,” says Volodymyr Kogutyak, Vice President of the Association of Ukrainians in France.


Founded in 1949, the “Association of Ukrainians in France” NGO focuses on preserving Ukraine’s spiritual and cultural heritage, shaping a positive image of Ukraine and Ukrainians in French public opinion, and combating campaigns aimed at slandering and discrediting Ukraine and Ukrainians.