Alexander Dvorkin

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Alexander Leonidovich Dvorkin (Russian: Александр Леонидович Дворкин; born 20 August 1955 in Moscow) is a Russian medieval historian, orthodox theologian and anti-cult activist.


Dvorkin was born in Moscow. He received his secondary education at schools No. 25, 91 and 112 in Moscow. After graduation from grade 10, in 1972, he entered the Moscow Pedagogical Institute at the Faculty of Russian Language and Literature. During his studies he joined the hippy movement. Dvorkin sets out two completely different versions of deductions from the institute. According to the book "Teachers and lessons: memories, stories, reflections" (Russian: "Учителя и уроки: воспоминания, рассказы, размышления"), together with the like-minded people, he prepared a work that was demonstrated on September 20, 1975 at an exhibition of avant-garde artists in one of the pavilions of the VDNKh; about this work and its authors — a group of hippies called "Hair", to which Alexander Dvorkin was close, — American magazine "Time" positively responded; as a consequence, in the autumn of 1975, Alexander Dvorkin was expelled from the third year of the institute "for believers incompatible with those that should be in the future Soviet teacher"[1]. According to the book "My America" (Russian: "Моя Америка"), he was not admitted to the fifth examination session and was expelled from the institute for poor academic performance and non-attendance in early 1975[2]. March 6, 1977 Dvorkin emigrated from the USSR on an Israeli visa. He did not go to Israel, but went to the USA. He worked as a courier, waiter, copyist. In 1978, Dvorkin became a student at the Hunter College, where he continued to study Russian literature. Dvorkin was baptized in the New York church of Christ the Savior of the Orthodox Church in America on January 19, 1980. Dvorkin graduated as Bachelor of Arts in Russian Literature in 1980 at Hunter College in 1980. In 1980, he became a student of the St. Vladimir Orthodox Theological Seminary of the OCA in New York. Dvorkin graduated as Master of Divinity in 1983 at the Saint Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, New York. In 1984, Dvorkin received American citizenship. In 1984, he enrolled in doctoral studies at the Department of Medieval History at Jesuit-affiliated independent schoolFordham University. Dvorkin graduated as Doctor of Philosophy in Medieval studies in 1988 at Fordham University (thesis "Ivan the Terrible as a Religious Type"; his mentor was John Meyendorff). In late 1988, Dvorkin moved to Washington, where he worked at the bureau of the Voice of America radio station. At the same time, he became the subdeacon and altar server of bishop Vasily Rodzianko in the Washington St. Nicholas Cathedral. In 1991, Dvorkin moved to Germany and started working for Radio Liberty. December 31, 1991 Dvorkin returned to Russia. He has appeared countless times on Russian television and many times on television in various Eastern-European countries.[3] He has authored 16 books (on various cults, on Church history as well as autobiographical prose) and edited 3 more. The number of his publications and interviews (translated into 16 languages) exceeds 1000.

He is president of the Saint Ireneus of Lyons Informational Consultative Center,[4] an anti-cult organisation registered in the Russian Federation as non-religious NGO, and since 2009 Vice-President of the European Federation of Centres of Research and Information on Sectarianism (FECRIS), an umbrella organization for anti-cult groups in Europe.[5] Dvorkin is on the board of the Europe-wide counter-cult agency FECRIS. He is a professor of Church History and Cultic Studies at Saint Tikhon's Orthodox University, Moscow, Russia.

Anti-cult activism[edit]

In 1993, with the blessing of Patriarch Alexy II, he established a Russian anti-cult organization currently called Association of Centres for the Study of Religions and Sects (RATsIRS). From that time on he has been extremely active in opposing cults and new religious movements through his publications.[5]

Dvorkin is a critic of Scientology, which he regards as a dangerous cult. Church of Scientology-affiliated organizations describe him as an "anti-religious extremist", and compile negative information about him on their websites. In 1997, Scientology and several other new religious movements sued Dvorkin and the Russian Orthodox Church for defamation, but their case was dismissed.[6]

Dvorkin has claimed that the followers of Nikolai Rerikh as well as Jehovah's Witnesses, Scientology, Hare Krishnas, Neo-Pagans, Neo-Pentecostals, and many others are "totalitarian cults".[7] "When a psychiatrist-academician (Dmitrieva, Sidorov) or an expert-psychologist of the Institute of Psychology of the Russian Academy of Sciences rely on the works by Dvorkin and Hassan, which do not belong to science, it is a symptom of degradation", said Yuri Savenko, the President of the Independent Psychiatric Association of Russia.[8]

Dvorkin supports himself and his family by teaching, but dedicates at least half of his working time to helping those harmed by cults. He travels regularly throughout Russia and Eastern Europe, running seminars and conferences.


  1. ^ Дворкин А. Л. (2008). Учителя и уроки: воспоминания, рассказы, размышления. Христианская б-ка. p. 373. ISBN 5-88213-081-6.
  2. ^ Дворкин А. Л. (2013). Моя Америка: автобиографический роман в двух книгах с прологом и двумя эпилогами. Христианская б-ка. p. 795. ISBN 978-5-905472-11-4.
  3. ^ For example his appearance in TV-program "National Interest" Archived 19 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Steinberg, Mark D.; Catherine Wanner (2008). Religion, morality, and community in post-Soviet societies. Indiana University Press. p. 300. ISBN 978-0-253-22038-7.
  5. ^ a b Régis Dericquebourg, "FECRIS: European Federation of Research and Information Centers on Sectarianism", in Freedom of Religion or Belief — Anti-Sect Movements and State Neutrality — A Case Study: FECRIS, special issue of Religion – Staat – Gesellschaft: Zeitschrift für Glaubensformen und Weltanschauungen (Journal for the Study of Beliefs and Worldviews, ISSN 1438-955X), 2012/2, p.188–189, ISBN 978-3-643-99864-4
  6. ^ Côté, Pauline (2001). Chercheurs de dieux dans l'espace public. University of Ottawa Press. pp. 157–158. ISBN 978-2-7603-0535-9.
  7. ^ Савенко, Юрий (2009). Открытое письмо Президенту Российской Федерации Д.А. Медведеву. Nezavisimiy Psikhiatricheskiy Zhurnal (in Russian) (№ 2): 5–6. Retrieved 12 July 2011.
  8. ^ Савенко, Юрий (2004). Отчетный доклад о деятельности НПА России за 2000-2003 гг.. Nezavisimiy Psikhiatricheskiy Zhurnal (in Russian) (№ 2). ISSN 1028-8554. Retrieved 1 January 2012.

Further reading[edit]

  • Мухтаров Е. О. Биография Александра Дворкина // Дворкин А. Л. Учителя и уроки: Воспоминания, рассказы, размышления. — Нижний Новгород: Христианская библиотека, 2009, — С. 9-60.

External links[edit]