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Russian cemetery situation triggered by Russophobic lobby — French writer

Dimitri de Kochko recalled that "a large part of the cemetery is protected by the French government as a historical monument, which cannot be touched"

PARIS, January 16. /TASS/. Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois’ refusal to cooperate with Russia to settle the Russian cemetery situation stems from the intrigues of the Russophobic lobby, French writer and public activist Dimitri de Kochko told TASS on Monday.

"No doubt this is a political decision," he said. "It looks like some people are seeking to capitalize on Russophobia, rejecting Russia’s help."

"Obviously, the city’s administration has a rather strong pro-Bandera lobby and, naturally, it will complicate the situation," he noted. "The unfolding Russophobia, which is not typical of France, is acting in accordance with its own logic. Its goal is to wipe out everything Russian: the language, economy, history, and even cemeteries. There is nothing new in such an approach of the pro-Bandera circles. This was what the Nazi did during the war when they demolished Jewish cemeteries.

However, he said, there are no threats of "the demolition of graves." "I hope that both law and the traditional good attitude of most of the French to Russians will not let this happen," he stressed.

The writer recalled that "a large part of the cemetery is protected by the French government as a historical monument, which cannot be touched." "As far as I know, despite their refusal to take the money, the commune’s authorities will continue to issue invoices to the Russian side for the concession extension," he said, adding that some two or three years ago a program for the cemetery’s repairs was drawn up and it was planned to fix the crosses and take care of the trees. "It was hampered first by the pandemic and then by the Ukrainian crisis," he stressed.

The Russian embassy in France told TASS earlier on Monday that it has called on the Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois authorities for cooperation in settling the Russian cemetery situation. According to the embassy, the Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois municipal council decided in December to reject Russia’s payment for expired concessions for compatriots’ burials the Russian side has been regularly paying since 2005. The move "jeopardizes the maintenance of graves," the embassy stressed.

Neither the French ministry of culture nor the Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois municipal authorities were available for comment.


The Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois cemetery is the largest Russian burial ground in France. The first Russian burials there date back to the 1920s.

Among those buried there are Russia’s first Nobel Prize winner in literature Ivan Bunin (1870-1953), painter Konstantin Korovin (1981-1939), French Foreign Legion veteran and French General Zinovy Peshkov (1884-1966), a stepson of writer Maxim Gorky.

The cemetery houses the cenotaph of Princess Vera Obolensky, a French Resistance member during World War II who was executed by the Nazis in August 1944.

During his first visit to France as Russia’s President in the autumn of 2000, Vladimir Putin laid flowers at Bunin's grave and Obolenky’s memorial. He also visited the graves of ballerina Olga Preobrajenska, poet and playwright Alexander Galich, writer Viktor Nekrasov, ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev, and the memorial for the Don Cossacks.