The Russian Aleksey Komov is an ultraconservative anti-choice and anti-LGBTIQ activist, who has been involved in a variety of Christian (Orthodox) fundamentalist organizations and initiatives in Russia and abroad.
Komov is best known for his association with the ultra-Orthodox oligarch Konstantin Malofeev, an ally of Vladimir Putin who has been sanctioned by Canada and the U.S. for funding Russian aggression in Ukraine.1 Malofeev's Tsargard TV channel and Katehon think tank have been offering a platform for Russian, but also European far-right figures, notably the Russian fascist ideologue Alexander Dugin. Furthermore, Komov acts as a foreign projects manager at Malofeev's Saint Basil the Great Charitable Foundation, and had been a board member of Malofeev's Safe Internet League, a Russian non-governmental organization created to censor information on the Internet.2
But Komov is also involved in US-based projects: he is Russian ambassador of the ultra-conservative World Congress of Families (WCF) opposed to same sex marriage, abortion, and the LGBTIQ movement, which has grown into an international super-group. The WCF runs its own Russian website,3 with which Komov is also associated.4 According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPCL), the WCF was "increasing its presence in Russia around 2011," and had hired Komov for the job.5 Besides, Komov is a board member of the internationally active home-school advocacy group Global Home Education Exchange.6
Likely through his WCF connections, Komov also has links to the ultraconservative Dignitatis Humanae Institute (DHI), with long-standing ties to Steve Bannon. Bannon, with the help of DHI has just recently leased a large monastery in Italy, which he wants to turn into a cadre school for his "nationalist populist" revolution.7 8
Komov seems to be very active in Italy, where he not only appears as honorary president of the Lombardy-Russia Cultural Association (Associazione Culturale Lombardia Russia, LRCA), a Russian-Italian business platform, but can also be frequently spotted in the orbit of the Italian far-right Lega party.5 According to historian Anton Shekhovtsov, the LCRA was essential to Lega's breathtaking successes in the recent years:9
Since the beginning of 2014, the LN [Lega Nord] has been extremely active in carrying out pro-Kremlin efforts in Italy, in particular through the Associazione Culturale Lombardia Russia.
Komov was born into a diplomatic family in London.10 Komov has an MBA degree from The Open University, Business School, UK. He studied finance and law at the State University of New York, NY, USA.11 He graduated from the History Faculty of the Lomonosov Moscow State University with a specialization in "Modern US History."12 In the early 2010s, he enrolled in a postgraduate program at IMEMO (The Institute of World Economy and International Relations) working on a PhD thesis on "Demographic modeling in Russia of the 21st century” at the Faculty of Sociology of the Lomonosov Moscow State University under the guidance of Prof. Anatoly I. Antonov.11 He has also an MBA in theology from the St. Tikhon's Orthodox University of the Humanities.12
Anatoly Antonov, former professor of family sociology and demography at Moscow State University.
His doctoral supervisor, Anatoly Antonov, a former professor of family sociology and demography at Moscow State University, had reached out to the American Allan C. Carlson in the mid-1990s, a contact which culminated in the creation of the World Congress of Families (WCF) by Carlson's Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society in 1997.13
According to a report by Deutschlandfunk, it was Archpriest Dmitry Smirnov (1951-2020), who recommended to Komov to work with the WCF:14
"[After the 2008 financial crisis] We [Komov and his wife Irina Shamolina] became Russian Orthodox and went to Archpriest Dmitry Smirnov, head of the Patriarch's Commission on Family and Protection of Motherhood. We asked him: How can we help? He said: There is a certain organization, the 'World Congress of Families'. Talk to them, maybe you can work together. So that's what we did."
Archpriest Dmitry Smirnov (1951-2020)
Komov was the chairman of the "Demographic Moscow Summit: Family and the Future of Humankind" that took place from June 29 to 30, 2011.15 On a picture in the July/August 2011 newsletter of the World Congress of Families there is a picture that is showing Komov at the summit alongside Allan Carlson (President of the World Congress of Families as of 2011); Don Feder (Communications Director of WCF as of 2011); Larry Jacobs (Vice President and Managing Director of WCF as of 2011); Pat Fagan (Family Research Council); as well as the Russian oligarch Vladimir Yakunin and his wife Natalya Yakunina.16 17
Left to right: Alexey Komov, Pat Fagan, Don Feder, Allan Carlson, Vladimir Yakunin, Larry Jacobs and Natalya Yakunina during the Moscow Demographic Summit in 2011.
According to aforementioned newsletter:16
History was made at the World Congress of Families’ “Moscow Demographic Summit – Family and the Future of Humankind” – June 29-30. The Summit, at the Russian State Social University (the nation’s largest institution of higher learning), was the first conference to focus on the worldwide decline of birth rates. Thanks to the hard work and vision of Alexey Komov, WCF Representative in Moscow and the CIS, there were more than 500 participants, including demographers, economists, ethicists, researchers, scholars, leaders and activists from every corner of the world. Speakers at the opening ceremony included: Dr. Allan Carlson (World Families International Secretary), Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin (delivering a message from Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church), Dr. Zhukov V.I. (Rector Russian State Social University), Dr. Alan Keyes (former Asst. Secretary of State and U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO), Anna Zaborska (member EU Parliament, former Chairwoman of the EU Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality), and Miklós Soltész, (Hungarian Minister of Social, Family and Youth Affairs).
Speakers at the opening session also included: Natalya Yakunina (President of the Sanctity of Motherhood Program), Rabbi Andrew Glotser (assistant to Chief Rabbi of Russia Berl Lazar), Father Dimitry Smirnov, and Mufti Huzin (representative of Muslim Umma). There were also video messages from Dr. Paige Patterson (former President of the Southern Baptist Convention, President of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) and Dr. Farooq Hassan (distinguished jurist and President of the Pakistan Family Forum). The session on demography featured Philip Longman (author of “The Empty Cradle: how falling birthrates threaten world prosperity and what to do about it”), Steve Mosher (President, Population Research Institute), Igor Beloborodov (Demographic Research Institute, Moscow) and Don Feder (WCF Communications Director).
Others on the program included Larry Jacobs (WCF Managing Director), Margaret Hartshorn, (Heartbeat Inter national), Patrick Fagan (Family Research Council), Janice Shaw Crouse (Concerned Women for America), Dr. Francisco Tatad (Former Majority Leader, Philippine Senate), Ewa Kowalewska (Human Life International, Europe), James Kushiner (Society of St. James), Dr. Marguerite Peeters (Institute for Intercultural Dialogue Dynamics ,Belgium), Archpriest Maxim Obukhov (Pro-Life Leader of Russian Orthodox Church); Dr.Thomas Ward (National Association of Catholic Families in the UK), Maria Sofia Aguirre (Professor of Economics, Catholic University of America), John Mueller (Ethics and Public Policy Center), Dr. Anatoly Antonov (Moscow State Lomonosov University demographer), Vladimir Grozov (Family, Unity and Motherhood) Dr. Tamara Komarova (expert on childhood programs of the Russian Federation), Barry McLerran (producer of the “Demographic Winter” documentaries) and Shelly Locke (who’ s producing a new documentary on motherhood).
Apparently the meeting had an impact. The newsletter goes on to report that:16
Less than three weeks after the Summit adjourned, Russian President Medvedev signed into law the first pro-life measure since the fall of communism. (The day after the Summit, the bill passed the lower house of the Duma.) The law requires abortion facilities to spend 10% of their income warning pregnant women of the health risks of abortion (much like the cancer-warning on cigarette packs in the U.S.). Mothers are now permitted to anonymously leave newborns at adoption centers. Alexey Komov, Fr. Maxim Obukhov and others who helped to organize the Summit are opening a Life-Family Medical Centers Network – the first national network of modern, state-of-the-art medical facilities that will provide a complete range of services in obstetrics and post-natal care. They will also operate as crisis pregnancy centers.
Komov appeared as a speaker at the 6th iteration of the World Congress of Families in 2012, taking place in Madrid that year. In his 2012 bio on the WCF website, he is named "Director of External Affairs" of the Russian Orthodox Church.15 In the same bio he is also designated as "Head of Representative Office of WCF in Russia and the CIS," and as "International Pro-Life Projects Coordinator of the Russian Orthodox Church."
Aleksey Komov's bio on the WCF website in 2012.
WCF delegation to Ukraine
SPLC reported that a few months before the Crimean annexation, "under Komov's leadership the WCF sent a delegation to Ukraine in October 2013 ... and declared in its subsequent press release that: 'The Ukrainian leaders expressed concern about the pressure brought to bear on their nation to accede to the homosexual agenda (including ‘gay marriage’) as a condition for membership in the European Union.'"5
While WCF's statement is clearly false - there is no EU legislation making same-sex marriage obligatory for member states - the fake news have been picked up by Ukrainians receiving the delegation. Among them, the All Ukrainians' Parents Committee, which subsequently declared:5
“We oppose the signing of the association agreement with the E.U., because it will lead to the inevitable homosexualizing of Ukraine.” WCF leaders also met with some members of the Ukrainian parliament."
The WCF seems to serve as a tool for i.a. Russian oligarch billionaires, most notably Konstantin Malofeev and Vladimir Yakunin to push Ukraine away from the EU and further towards Russia.
Lega Nord Congress
In December 2013, Aleksey Komov was speaking at the congress of the Lega Nord (Northern League, LN) that elected Matteo Salvini as the leader of the party in Turin. There, he introduced the mascot of the World Congress of Families for the following year: a Russian doll, whose outer doll is a man instead of a woman, since according to Komov “god created woman from a man,” while inside the woman are five children.18
Lombardy-Russia Cultural Association (LRCA)
In 2014, Komov helped to establish the Lombardy-Russia Cultural Association (LRCA), and became its honorary president. The LRCA is led by one of Lega's Russian liaisons, Gianluca Savoini. "The activities of the association are aimed at promoting Russia’s aggressive foreign policies in Italy, including attempts at building business relations between Italian businessmen and businessmen in Russia-annexed Crimea."19
Planned WCF congress in Moscow
In 2014, the WCF congress was scheduled to take place in Moscow, and would have united "anti-LGBT activists and politicians from all over the world."5 But the Crimea invasion crossed those plans, at least openly:5
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. It was even attended by WCF communications director Don Feder and late managing director Larry Jacobs. Though Komov mentioned the WCF were organizers in the media, Jacobs maintained it was not.
As a new look at a trove of emails released in 2014 by the Russian hacker collective Shaltai Boltai (Humpty Dumpty) reveals, the 2014 Moscow Congress was just the tip of the iceberg. WCF’s involvement in Russian geopolitics runs deep and led to a collaboration that gave Russian Orthodox oligarchs apparent access to the powerful American Christian evangelical political machine.
This conference, entitled “Large Families: The Future of Humanity,” was bankrolled i.a. by Konstantin Malofeev.5
On June 20, 2014, Larry D. Jacobs (former managing director of the WCF) posted a picture on Twitter, showing him together with Komov and Dr. Ben Carson (at the time Fox contributor; 2016 GOP presidential candidate; as of 2017 Trump's Secretary of Housing) at the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) Gala Dinner at the Willard Hotel in Washington DC, a notorious anti-LGBTIQ event.20
Alexey Komov and me chatting with Dr Ben Carson at NOM Gala Dinner at Willard Hotel in Washington DC pic.twitter.com/gSGKsL1qVD— Larry D Jacobs (@larrydjacobs) June 19, 2014
According to an article by Think Progress:20
The former GOP presidential candidate [Carson] has compared same-sex marriage to bestiality. During his keynote speech at the NOM gala, as Right Wing Watch found, Carson even managed to claim that Marxists were “using LGBT rights to destroy American unity and impose the ‘New World Order.'”
WCF congress in Tbilisi
On May 16, 2016, Komov appeared as a speaker at the annual WCF congress in Tbilisi, Georgia. His lecture was titled "The World's Elites: Neo-Marxism and Gender Ideology."21
Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society
In 2016, Komov became a trustee of the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society (doing business as International Organization for the Family, IOF),22 a key organization behind the creation of the World Congress of Families in 1997.23 Also the Italian Luca Volontè became a trustee that year, who in 2021 was sentenced to four years in prison for taking bribes from Azerbaijani politicians.24 Two years earlier the Spanish Ignacio Arsuaga, founder of HazteOir and CitizenGo, the Mexican Vicente Segu Marcos, as well as the American Brian Brown had joined the organization, all of whom are still involved, according to the Howard Center's latest filings (2019).25
Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA)
According to Katherine Stewart's The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism:26
Komov assisted the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), along with the IOF and other organizations, in bringing a Global Home Education Conference to Russia in May 2018. The HSLDA's founder and former chairman, Michael Farris, currently serves as the CEO and General Counsel of the Alliance Defending Freedom.
Russian funding of Lega
In February 2019, the Italian L’Espresso reported about an opaque case of party financing, which implicated Italy's Lega party of receiving money via a kick-back scheme from Russia.27 The dossier came to the conclusion that the Russian company Avangard Oil & Gas “is selling 3 million tons of diesel fuel … to an Italian state company, Eni, that Salvini as interior minister can help manage.”7
Lega’s Russia “fixer” in this alleged kickback scheme, LRCA's Gianluca Savoini, has long-standing ties to preeminent figures in the Russian far right. Savoini reportedly stated he has known the Russian fascist ideologue Alexander Dugin for over 20 years,28 and has also been contributing to Orthodox billionaire Konstantin Malofeev’s think tank Katehon.29 It may be no coincidence that Avangard Oil & Gas is located in the same building as Malofeev’s Tsargrad TV channel. According to the Daily Beast:7
L'Espresso claims that the troika behind all of the dirty dealing is Komov, Savoini and Aleksandr Dugin, a political influencer who has Putin's ear and who was appointed as an honorary president of the Russia-Piedmont association, a sister organization to Savioni's Russia-Lombardy association, which gives him easy access to Italy. Dugin has, coincidentally, also been working for Malofeev's foundation with Komov, according to L'Espresso.
Dugin and Savoini were photographed in Rome on the Via del Babuino in September, where they allegedly put the finishing touches on the plan for Salvini's Oct. 17, 2018 visit to Moscow. The main event there was a 5:00 p.m. conference organized at the Lotte Hotel. Savoini was sitting front row center. After the conference, Salvini and Savoini apparently disappeared through a side door and were not heard from until the next morning. The Italian press traveling with him were baffled until it was leaked that the single Salvini had plans of an intimate nature.
Although denied at the time by the people involved, the allegations were confirmed when a secret recording of a meeting with Italian and Russian delegates in Moscow's Metropol hotel was leaked in July 2019.30
WCF congress in Verona
In March 2019, Komov was speaking at the annual World Congress of Families in Verona, Italy, which was also attended by Matteo Salvini, alongside the who-is-who of the ultraconservative catholic Right and the anti-abortionist milieu.31 According to Katherine Stewart:32
In one of the breakout sessions at the congress, Alexey Komov, a Russian activist who has special interests in America's religious-right homeschooling movement and Christian film industry, adds biologists to the targets: "The scientific worldview, the Darwin theory, it's the same organizations, the same people who promote LGBT, gender rights ... it goes in one package ... Gays and Darwin, somehow they are connected."
He is well aware of being designated a fascist, since he has appeared with defusing statements in that regard, for example on RT in April 201933 :
Standing strong for traditional family values is not fascism, as the mainstream media often insinuates, but merely a concern for the future of humanity, Aleksey Komov, of the World Congress of Families (WCF), has told RT.
The first archived version of the CitizenGo "About" page from July 2019 shows that Komov sat on the organization's board, alongside Ignacio Arsuaga, Blanca Escobar, Luca Volontè, Brian Brown, Gualberto García, Alejandro Bermudez and Carlos Polo.34 CitizenGo is a Christian fundamentalist foundation and advocacy group based in Spain, which runs an online platform that launches petitions worldwide to further the organization's causes. It was founded in Madrid, Spain, in 2013 by HazteOir, a similar Spanish-language platform existing since 2001, dedicated to fight an imputed "gender ideology."35 36
Petitions filed with the platform are for a large part opposing same-sex marriage, abortion, and euthanasia, with a clear anti-feminist and anti-LGBTIQ bias. According to CitizenGo, the organization has "team members located in fifteen cities on three continents," facilitating users signing petitions in 50 countries,37 while its website is available in around a dozen languages.38
- 1"Treasury Targets Additional Ukrainian Separatists and Russian Individuals and Entities," U.S. Department of Treasury, December 19, 2014, https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl9729.aspx.
- 2Hannah Levintova, "The World Congress of Families’ Russian Network," Mother Jones, February 21, 2014, https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/02/world-congress-families-us-evangelical-russia-family-tree/.
- 3Всемирный Конгресс Семей ("World Congress of Families"), http://worldcongress.ru/.
- 4Aleksey Komov's Twitter account, https://twitter.com/alexeykomov.
- 5 a b c d e f g "How the World Congress of Families serves Russian Orthodox political interests," Southern Poverty Law Center, May 16, 2018, https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2018/05/16/how-world-congress-families-serves-russian-orthodox-political-interests.
- 6"Board Members," Global Home Education Exchange, https://ghex.world/about/ghex-board/.
- 7 a b c Barbie Latza Nadeau, "An Italian Expose Documents Moscow Money Allegedly Funding Italy's Far-Right Salvini," Daily Beast, February 22, 2019, https://www.thedailybeast.com/an-italian-expose-documents-moscow-money-allegedly-funding-italys-far-right-salvini?ref=scroll.
- 8“The ultra-conservative crusade against Pope Francis,” MSNBC, video, 14:20, April 14, 2019, https://www.msnbc.com/on-assignment/watch/the-ultra-conservative-crusade-against-pope-francis-1493172291746.
- 9"The Italian far right Lega Nord builds closer ties with Moscow," Anton Shekhovtsov's blog, March 6, 2017, http://anton-shekhovtsov.blogspot.com/2017/03/the-italian-far-right-lega-nord-builds.html.
- 10"За веру, царя и домашнее насилие! Как закон о профилактике домашнего насилия объединил правых радикалов, православных коммунистов и родительские организации," Meduza, January 30, 2020, https://meduza.io/feature/2020/01/30/za-veru-tsarya-i-domashnee-nasilie.
- 11 a b "Московский Демографический Саммит," Demoscope, ca. 2011, http://www.demoscope.ru/weekly/anons/anons01031162.pdf.
- 12 a b Alla Tuchkova, "Советница протоиерея Димитрия Смирнова Шамолина превращает детей в дебилов [Archpriest Dimitry Smirnov's adviser Shamolina turns children into morons]," Alla Tuchkova (Blog)November 8, 2016, https://avt1975.livejournal.com/97422.html.
- 13Kristina Stoeckl, " The rise of the Russian Christian Right: the case of the World Congress of Families," Religion, State & Society, 48:4, 223-238, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/09637494.2020.1796172?needAccess=true.
- 14Gesine Dornblüth, "Netzwerk konservativer ChristenReligiöse Rechte in Russland und den USA," Deutschlandfunk, November 19, 2019, https://www.deutschlandfunk.de/netzwerk-konservativer-christen-religioese-rechte-in-100.html.
- 15 a b "Speakers Bureau," World Congress of Families, Madrid, 2012, https://web.archive.org/web/20120422151309/http://congresomundial.es/wcf-vi-madrid/speakers/.
- 16 a b c World Congress of Families Newsletter, July / August 2011, Vol. 5, No. 6, https://wikileaks.org/intolerancenetwork/files/203.
- 17"WCF Leadership," Worldcongress.ru, 2011, https://web.archive.org/web/20110410013902/http://www.worldcongress.ru/en/about-wcf/wcf-leadership.
- 18Lega Salvini Premier, “Congresso Federale Lega Nord 2013 - Ambasciatore Russo Nazioni Unite Alexey Komov,” YouTube video, 5:45, December 18, 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsgJtcNZZwQ.
- 19"Profile: Konstantin Malofeev," Underminers, December 4, 2017, https://www.underminers.info/publications/2017/12/5/profile-konstantin-malofeev.
- 20 a b Casey Michel, "Newly emerged photo shows Ben Carson with key employee of sanctioned Russian oligarch," Think Progress, January 31, 2019, https://thinkprogress.org/why-was-ben-carson-hanging-out-with-the-employee-of-this-sanctioned-russian-oligarch-konstantin-malofeev-alexey-komov-bdb4cd383eaa/.
- 21"Alexey Komov," მსოფლიო საოჯახო კონგრესი X / WCF X on YouTube, September 3, 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SnKGHM7fDf8.
- 22"The International Organization for the Family Inc., "Full Filing" for fiscal year ending Sept. 2017," https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/541788267/201841459349300539/full.
- 23Kristina Stoeckl, “The Rise of the Russian Christian Right: The Case of the World Congress of Families,” Religion, State and Society 48, no. 4 (August 7, 2020): 223–38, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/09637494.2020.1796172.
- 24Zdravko Ljubas, "Italian Court Sentences Former Council of Europe MP for Bribery," OCCRP, January 14, 2021, https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/13628-italian-court-sentences-former-council-of-europe-mp-for-bribery.
- 25"The International Organization for the Family Inc., Form 990 for period ending December 2019," ProPublica, https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/display_990/541788267/02_2021_prefixes_52-56%2F541788267_201912_990_2021022217736611.
- 26Katherine Stewart, The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2020), https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Vd2yDwAAQBAJ&q=alexey+komov#v=snippet&q=alexey%20komov&f=false.
- 27Giovanni Tizian and Stefano Vergine, “Esclusivo - La trattativa segreta per finanziare con soldi russi la Lega di Matteo Salvini,” L’Espresso, February 21, 2019, http://espresso.repubblica.it/inchieste/2019/02/20/news/esclusivo-lega-milioni-russia-1.331835?refresh_ce.
- 28Alberto Nardelli and Olga Tokariuk, “Here’s A Totally Incredible Story About Pro-Russian Mercenaries And A Close Aide To Italy’s De Facto Leader,” BuzzFeed News, September 13, 2018, https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/albertonardelli/matteo-salvini-russia-gianluca-savoini.
- 29“Gianluca Savoini,” Katehon, http://katehon.com/person/gianluca-savoini.
- 30Alberto Nardelli, "Revealed: The Explosive Secret Recording That Shows How Russia Tried To Funnel Millions To The 'European Trump,'" BuzzFeed News, July 10, 2019, https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/albertonardelli/salvini-russia-oil-deal-secret-recording.
- 31"Speakers," World Congress of Families XIII, Verona, 29-31 March 2019, https://wcfverona.org/en/speakers/.
- 32Stewart, The Power Worshippers, https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Vd2yDwAAQBAJ&q=alexey+komov#v=snippet&q=alexey%20komov&f=false
- 33"Supporting family values is not fascism, it’s caring for humanity – World Congress of Families envoy," April 6, 2019, https://www.rt.com/news/455699-family-values-world-congress/.
- 34“About Us,” CitizenGO, archived version of July 8, 2019, https://web.archive.org/web/20190708135449/https://www.citizengo.org/en-us/about-us.
- 35HazteOir, http://www.hazteoir.org/.
- 36 Jesús Bastante and Marta Borraz, "Los ultracatólicos de HazteOir cambian de marca para limpiar su imagen," El Diario, https://www.eldiario.es/sociedad/HazteOir-blanquea-vinculacion-Yunque-plataforma_0_608239475.html.
- 37"What is CitizenGO?," CitizenGo, https://www.citizengo.org/en/node/1.
- 38CitizenGo, https://www.citizengo.org/.