Who is Florin Păsătoiu, the man who used Russian propaganda to launch the fake-news about a bilateral co-operation agreement between Russia and Romania
The recasting of Russian-Romanian relations at the scientific, cultural and diplomatic level through an agreement between the University of Craiova and the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry was last week’s fake news, launched by the Russian MFA spokesman. The truth is that there is no talk of such an agreement between the two institutions. The only discussions are held by an obscure Russian diplomacy center and a university lecturer at the University of Craiova, known as a great admirer of Russia and a propagator of Kremlin’s ideas.
How did the original news published by the Tass Russian agency on October 10, and taken over by Rador, look like: „A Memorandum of Cooperation between the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry and the University of Craiova is about to be signed. It provides for the creation of a Romanian-Russian expert commission for public diplomacy and scientific and cultural dialogue „- the Russian diplomat said. „This will create a platform for dialogue between the scientific circles in Russia and Romania, which will include the complicated pages of history as well as a series of current issues of modern bilateral relations,” said Maria Zaharova, spokesperson of the Russian MFA.
One day after the news, the University of Craiova denied the information, declaring itself „perplexed” by the Russian MAE information: „1.The University of Craiova has not signed and does not intend to sign a Memorandum with the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry. 2. The University of Craiova has no collaboration with the Russian Foreign Ministry, or with other institutions in the Russian Federation, except higher education ones”.
Faced with an embarrassing situation in which it has turned out to vehiculate a high-level fake news, Russia reacted through the head of the Russian Science and Culture Center in Bucharest, Natalia Mujenikova. In an interview with the Russian official propaganda body, Sputnik, Mujenikova said that Russia’s signatory is a center of the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian MFA (Center for Public Diplomacy, World Cultures and Religions Dialogue of the Institute of International Problems). The signatory from Romania would be the Center for Foreign Policy and Security Studies.
What is the Center for Foreign Policy and Security Studies?
The Center for Foreign Policy and Security Studies is a structure of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Craiova with a non-functional webpage and a Facebook page posting messages of Russian propaganda, such as the fact that NATO is an exhausted organization or the need to rethink the Eurasian political order.
Who is Florin Păsătoiu
The head of the Center is Florin Păsătoiu, university lecturer with studies in Moscow. According to his CV, in the period September – November 2014 (during the crisis of the illegal annexation of Crimea and the invasion of Ukraine by Russia), Păsătoiu studied in Moscow at the Russian Foreign Ministry about „Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation, Politics Security of the Russian Federation and the balance of power „.
After returning from his studies in Moscow, Păsătoiu was noted for a series of events and initiatives that helped Russia propagate the main tenets of Russian discourse in Romania.
In 2017, the center he led invited Ekaterina Mihailenko from the Department of International Relations of the Federative University of Ural, Russia, to Craiova to talk about the „regionalization of Eurasia”.
Equally in 2017, Florin Păsătoiu organized an extremely controversial event: he invited Alexei Gromakko, Russian diplomat and director of the Institute of Europe at the Russian Academy of Sciences to hold a conference in Craiova, at the headquarters of the county library. According to the story, Păsătoiu – who was also the moderator of the conference – left Gromako to expose his anti-NATO and anti-European doctrine without giving a reply, and moreover, approving his words (source 1, source 2, source 3)
Florin Păsătoiu is the author of the study „From Obsolete Norms to Realpolitik in EU and Russia Foreign Policy Relations”, which resumes Russia’s theses about a new global order.
In March 2018, just before the presidential election in Russia, Florin Păsatoiu was again in Moscow, together with former Prime Minister Adrian Năstase and other delegates of the Nicolae Titulescu Foundation, for a conference on „Neighborhood and Good Neighborhood in International Relations special to Romanian-Russian relations „. According to Adrian Năstase’s blog, the invitation to organize the action came from the „Gorchakov Fund for Public Diplomacy” – a think tank created in Russia in 2010.
Florin Păsătoiu’s Facebook account abounds in Russia’s propaganda articles.
In October, Florin Păsătoiu was part of a delegation from Craiova, who paid a working visit to Montenegro for meetings with the mayor and the president of the local parliament in Podgorica, with the president of the local parliament in Bar, but also with the Minister of Culture Montenegro. Delegation also included Deputy Mayor Craiova, Stelian Baragan and Sorin Manda, the public manager of Craiova City Hall and Claudiu Manda’s brother (SDP).
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