The Finnish debt collection office froze the funds of the Russian centre of science and culture in Helsinki due to European Union sanctions.

By Easter, Rossotrudnichestvo, Russia’s state outreach agency, had suspended its operations in several European countries, including Slovenia, Slovakia, and Romania. Its head, Evgeny Primakov, noted that in the current circumstances, the organisation would focus on its priority regions, namely Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Rossotrudnichestvo is the largest, best-funded, and most historically rooted institution of Russian cultural diplomacy, which today spreads not only Russian narratives and fakes, but also outright lies in different parts of the world.

Vladimir Putin once worked in Dresden, in the-then German Democratic Republic, as director of the House of Friendship – the ‘great-grandmother’ of Rossotrudnichestvo, which in the 1980s was called the ‘Union of Soviet Societies for Friendly and Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries’. And that was the official cover-up for espionage, the main job of Russia’s current president.

Culture is a legitimate space of state presence in other countries. The declared goals and directions of Rossotrudnichestvo's work call for its comparison, on the one hand, with well-known and globally represented institutions in the field of cultural diplomacy, such as British Council, Goethe Institute, or Institut Français, and, on the other hand, with international development agencies, such as USAID and GIZ.

However, Rossotrudnichestvo, whose full titles is the ‘Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States Affairs, Compatriots Living Abroad, and International Humanitarian Cooperation’, can be looked upon as comparable with those institutions only at first glance.

Having seen the true goals of Rossotrudnichestvo, the European parliament back in 2016 recognised it as a propaganda structure.

The EP’s resolution on countering propaganda against the EU by third parties declared Rossotrudnichestvo – as well as a number of other Russian cultural and diplomatic organisations and propaganda media, including the Russkiy Mir Foundation, the RT multilingual TV platform, and the Sputnik multimedia service – as Kremlin-funded disinformation and propaganda tools.

Moreover, Rossotrudnichestvo and its foreign offices have long been accused of espionage, provocations, and other scandals, including in the United States, the Czech Republic, Germany, and Ukraine.

In March 2021, Rossotrudnichestvo – a title foreigners struggled with pronouncing – was renamed Russian House. Six months before Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine, twenty new Russian Houses were opened. Currently, Russian Houses operate in almost eighty countries, mostly in downtown areas in capital cities.

They continue spreading regular propaganda related to the Russian-Ukrainian war, informing about their events or third-party actions in support of Russia and directly disseminating Kremlin narratives.

In early March 2021, a year before the full-scale invasion, the head of Rossotrudnichestvo, Yevgeny Primakov – who is also the grandson of the chief of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service – threatened on his Telegram channel to destroy the downtown Kyiv, airfields, railway stations, bridges, and industrial enterprises in Ukraine’s deep rear in case it attempted to de-occupy the Donbas.

The struggle for minds and souls between good and evil continues. Ukraine expects the entire civilised world and reputable international organisations to recognise the Russian Federation as a country that is committing genocide against Ukrainians.

It is important not only to impose sanctions against it, but also to seize the property of Russian propaganda centres.