Friends of Crimean occupation during the war: new faces

Final press conference after Forum “Friends of Crimea – friends of Russia”, Moscow, 16.11.2022. Photo: screenshot of video

This material focuses mostly on new faces of «friends of Crimean occupation». Our previous article «Old friends of Crimean occupation during the war» highlighted those who have participated in Russian propagandist events since annexation of Crimea in 2014.

In 2022, there were three large events of «International Association of friends of Crimea»: online conference on June 22; international conference «Crimea in the current international environment» on November 9 in Simferopol and Forum «Friends of Crimea – friends of Russia» on November 15 in Moscow. Some «friends of Crimean occupation» attended other less important events whereas some «friends» limited their activity to their own countries.


Editor of popular Bulgarian website Поглед Инфо Rumen Petkov participated in Forum «Friends of Crimea – friends of Russia» (there is another Bulgarian person with the same name and surname; he is scandalous Bulgarian politician). He told that he used his website to counteract Western propaganda. 

Rumen Petkov. Photo: screenshot Youtube Поглед Инфо

For example, he wrote on May 9, 2022 that «today Europe ignores the killing of Russian speaking people in Eastern Ukraine as it ignored Hitler’s invasion into Czechoslovakia». 


Stefano Valdegamberi, Italian citizen and «Crimean strawberry farmer», has been active «friend of Russian Crimea» for years. However, we failed to find him on the collective photo of participants of Simferopol conference «Crimea in current international environment». He has not been mentioned among participants of Forum «Friends of Crimea – friends of Russia». 

But Russian propagandist events have been attended by two other Italians – scholar Giovanni Spalla and publisher and journalist Sandro Teti.

Sandro Teti. Photo:

Sandro Teti is the author of books about former Soviet states: Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania and Turkmenistan. They present «unusual for Western reader» view at the history and current life of these countries, as their annotations declare. 

For example, book Attacco all’Ucraina is the collection of «historical and journalist essays» written mostly by Italian pro-Russian professors, diplomats and journalists. They repeat myths of the Russian anti-Ukrainian propaganda: from Moscow version of the history of Kyiv Rus to fake stories about Nazi regiment «Azov». Website of the Sandro Teti’s publishing house has Russian language version. 

He told at Forum «Friends of Crimea – friends of Russia» that everything Russian was forbidden in Italy. 

Giovanni Spalla. Photo:

Scholar Giovanni Spalla attended the Forum and presented special issues of the Italian scientific journal GALILEO published in 2021 and 2022. They focused on joint Russian-Italian scientific project «Genoa fortresses of Crimea and Northern Black Sea». It seems Italian scholars participated in the Russian looting of Ukrainian historical monuments. 


Andrei Romanchuk, the head of «Russian cultural association» in Bialystok and the leader of Polish club of friends of Crimea, brought a group of Polish children to occupied Crimea in 2015 (he violated the procedure for the entrance to the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine, article 332-1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine). As he said, he laughed at his critics saying that he brought young Polish for the service of Putin!». Now he complains that he is persecuted.   

Andrei Romanchuk, Photo: screenshot

Romanchuk complained at the Forum «Friends of Crimea – friends of Russia» that all Polish participants of his Crimean trips were called collaborators and traitors. Polish authorities do not cooperate with him. He is not allowed to enter the library. Monuments of Soviet soldiers are not respected anymore. Polish people distrust lovers of the Russian Orthodoxy. 


Journalist Sonya Van Den Ende has been special guest of the Forum «Friends of Crimea – friends of Russia». She cooperates with Russian propagandist media, including media of Prigizhin, the owner of infamous PMC «Wagner». She illegally visited occupied territories of Ukraine. For example, Russian occupants brought her to Genichesk and Melitopol on March 18, 2022 and she wrote that local residents greeted Russian troops because they suffered under independent Ukraine. 

Sonya Van Den Ende . Photo:

«We are all listed in the «black list» of Zelensky because we tell the truth. Russia has to liberate Ukraine and the world from Nazism. I am sure that multi-polar world will be established. We should fight for it», as stated Sonya at Forum «Friends of Crimea – friends of Russia». 


Andreas Maurer has been «the most popular German politician in Russia» and «Russian friend of occupied Crimea» for many years. He is the mail carrier, former member of the council of German city Quakenbruck from pro-Russian party «The Left». In 2018, he was accused of falsifying municipal elections. He was not allowed by the German court decision to run for elections or be member of a party for four years. We did not find him among participants of Russian propagandist events in 2022 and 2023. 

Alina Lipp, press conference of the Forum «Friends of Crimea – friends of Russia», Moscow, 16.11.2022. Photo: screenshot

Instead of Maurer, German blogger Alina Lipp has been among key speakers of the final press conference of the Moscow Forum «Friends of Crimea – friends of Russia». She told about bad attitude of German authorities towards Russia. 

In April 2022, German journalists called her Putins deutsche Infokriegerin, «German information warrior of Putin».

Daughter of Russian father and German mother, Alina Lipp has been close to German party «Green» but then she accused the party of Russophobia and left it. In 2016, she visited Crimea for research purposes as she claimed. In 2019, she joined «Association of friends of Crimea». She launched youtube channel Glücklich auf der Krim \ Happy in Crimea. In 2021, Alina Lipp decided to reside in Russia. In November 2021, she opened her telegram channel Neues aus Russland, with over 185 thousand subscribers, mostly, Germans. 

Alina Lipp. Donetsk airport. Photo: screenshot of youtube «German Woman in Russia»

Alina Lipp attended the conference «Geopolitical war of the West against Russia: Ukrainian case» on February 15, 2022. The conference gathered key Russian propagandists and opinion makers. Lipp opened its new youtube channel «German Woman in Russia», with Russian propagandists messages and fake news about Ukraine and the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Lipp’s focus is on Donbas and the war. She has visited occupied territories of Ukraine. Her video gets hundred thousand views…

Alina Lipp also accused Germany of suppressing the freedom of speech.  

In 2022, German prosecutors initiated several criminal investigations against Lipp (online language of hatred etc.). 


Patrik Poppel «represented» Austria at the Forum «Friends of Crimea – friends of Russia». He is a friend of Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeev. He headed Suvorov Institute which promoted «ideas of the Russian world» in Austria. He brought Aleksandr Dugin, Russian ideologist of «Eurasianism», to Vienna.  He is «an official representative» of non-recognized Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia in Austria.

Patrik Poppel and Georgii Muradov, Simferopol, 18.03.2022. Photo: facebook «Крым и мир»

Poppel visited occupied Crimea several times as well as occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. As the head of «Club of friends of Crimea in Austria», he keeps talking about the end of European civilization and how Austria lost its sovereignty. 


Journalist of Turkish newspaper «Evrensel» Okay Deprem visited Moscow Forum «Friends of Crimea – friends of Russia» and Simferopol conference «Crimea in current international environment». He is an ardent opponent of NATO. He has been an international «observer» at fake elections of the Head of Donetsk People’s Republic, received the passport of «Donetsk Republic» and settled on the occupied territory of Donetsk region. Ukraine imposed sanctions on Okay Deprem on October 19, 2022.

Okay Derpem at the Forum «Friends of Crimea – friends of Russia», 19.11.2022 Photo: archive of Okay Deprem 

Journalist and head of «Fund for the development of Crimea» Vasfi Sel has been also a participant of the Forum «Friends of Crimea – friends of Russia». He is the son of Unver Sel, the head of pro-Russian association of Crimean Tatars of Turkey and the «friend of Crimean occupation». Vasfi Sel urged Crimean Tatars «to unite against fascism and to resist against Western colonial world order». 

Унвер Сель і Васфі Сель. Сімферополь, 30.06.2022 Фото:

Unver Sel and Vasfi Sel, Simferopol. 30.06.2022 Photo:

Vasfi Sel with his father attended occupied Crimea on June 30, 2022. They participated in the TV bridge Moscow-Simferopol «Position of Turkey in the conflict of civilizations between Russia and the West». 

Mehmet Perincek. Photo:

Mehmet Perincek, the son of Turkish pro-Russian politician Dogu Perincek, resides in Moscow. He calls himself a political scientist. Recently he wrote that «there would be far more serious armed conflict, if Russia would not start special military operation in Ukraine. More peaceful residents of Ukrainian cities would die. Kyiv would like to use these regions for attack on Russia. Then, many Russian cities along the Ukrainian border would be turned into ruins». 


Guest from Egypt Iur Iada has been mentioned in the Russian report about Forum «Friends of Crimea – friends of Russia». He was presented as an expert-economist. He recommended «investment opportunities and resources of Crimea» for Egyptian businessmen. He openly supported Russian aggression against Ukraine on behalf of Egyptian people. 


Pro-Russian American filmmaker Regis Tremblay has been living in occupied Yalta since 2019. He participates in local events organized by Muradov. For example, he participated in Simferopol conference «Crimea in the current international environment» in November 2022. 

Regis Trembley, Moscow, 09.05.2022. Photo:

Trembley is the author of conspiracy movies about «crimes of USA». He calls himself a friend of director Oliver Stone, who made complementary documentary about Putin. 


Gabriel Anicet Kotchofa is a typical Russian agent of influence. He graduated from the Moscow Institute of Oil and Gas and worked in Russia. He has academic titles from three Russian universities and a lot of positions in quasi-governmental bodies. He has been an Ambassador of Benin to the Russian Federation in 2013-2016. He often attends various Russian events and regions and talks about «good Russia» on behalf of «progressive world community». There was no surprise that he gave a speech at the final press conference of Forum «Friends of Crimea – friends of Russia» in November 2022. 

Gabriel Kotchofa. Press conference of participants of Forum «Friends of Crimea – friends of Russia», Moscow, 16.11.2022. Photo: screenshot


Russian occupants announced participation of «representatives of Cyprus» in the online conference of «Association of friends of Crimea» in June 2022 and in Moscow Forum «Friends of Crimea – friends of Russia» in Novermber 2022. We do not know exact names of Cypriotes. 

There might have been the following people: Andrei Ushakov, the initiator of Cypriote organization «Club of friends of Chersonesus», director of the Foundation «Cultural heritage of Crimea» and organizer of exhibition  in Cyprus «Sacred places of Chersonesus»; Haris Trassu, the president of the Association of friendship and cultural relations «Cyprus-Russia»; Dmitrii Apraksin, professor of Nicosia University and member of the Coordination council of Russian Compatriots etc. 

Thus, marginal politicians, propagandists, freaks and Russians living abroad are real faces of «friends of Crimean occupation».