The University of Genoa (Università di Genova) is one of the largest universities in Italy. It is located in Liguria, on the Italian Riviera, and it has high-ranking positions among the European universities in the computer science fields. The University also shares a branch campus of Florida International University in Miami, Florida, United States, in Genoa. Also, the University of Genoa formed an international study group with Taras Ševčenko National University, and with Mohyla National Academy University in Kyiv, on the topic of Ukraine’s integration into the European Union (

So, it is surprising that a delegate from the University of Genoa decided to “celebrate” the first anniversary of the full-scale war in Moscow, in February 2023, attending a panel with Russian top propagandist Maria Zacharova, organized by a Russian fund sanctioned by the EU in 2022.

Mara Morini is Associate Professor in Comparative Politics and Political Science at the University of Genoa, in Italy. She is frequently invited by Italian TV and Newspapers as “expert of Russia”.

In February 2023, she attended a Panel with Maria Zacharova, in Moscow, saying that, according to her, political decisions of the Leaders of European Union regarding Russiaareincorrect”.

On the website of the Gorchakov Fund, her affiliation with the University of Genoa is emphasized, and it is used also in the advertising material of another forum, held in these days, one year later.

The Gorchakov Fund is sanctioned by the European Union since 2022.

The Alexander Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund was established in 2010 by the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. The founder of the Fund was the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Foreign Affairs is the head of the board of trustees. The Ministry funds the work of the Gorchakov Fund, which in turn grants funding to think tanks and GONGOs.

The Gorchakov Fund is designed to support Russian compatriots in the post-Soviet space in line with the Kremlin’s ideological objectives. Projects organised by the Gorchakov Fund have been important elements of Russia’s foreign policy discourse. In 2015, the Government of Ukraine closed the Office of the Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund in Kyiv because of anti-state propaganda.

Therefore, the Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund is responsible for actively supporting and benefitting from the Government of the Russian Federation, which is responsible for the annexation of Crimea and the destabilisation of Ukraine.

It is unclear if the Gochakov Fund is still cooperating with the University of Genova, and if the participation of the University of Genoa in their panel included also some payment, or expenses refund: in any case, if an Italian University is contributing to a panel organized by a sanctioned organization, is this a breach of the EU sanctions?

In a debate on X with another Italian academic, Prof. Sofia Ventura, who was a harsh critic of Morini’s participation in the Moscow event, Professor Morini states that “conventions and agreements between [Italian and Russian] universities are blocked, but scientific and cultural cooperation at an individual level are not.

So, it seems that Professor Morini’s participation to the panel of the Gorchakov Fund was approved by the University of Genoa?


Professor Morini is also in the “Editorial Council” of the Journal “Diplomatic Service”, issued by the Russian MFA: the publication is a comprehensive summary of all the topic of the Russian propaganda (“traditional values” in Russia, “Western propaganda”, etc.). In the last issue available on-line, published in 2024, Professor Morini is still in the Editorial Council.


Previously, in 2021, Professor Morini attended another event organized by the Russian MFA, in occupied Crimea: again, in the Conference she attended on behalf of the University of Genoa.

The “Conference” issued a “final declaration” asking to lift the sanctions against Russia.


Further declarations of Professor Morini in 2021, asking to cancel the sanctions against Russia: Professor Morini “dreams of giving her book to President Putin”, and she “hopes that in the next elections in Italy, political parties supporting of the abolition of sanctions will win”.


Professor Morini is also the author of an article with Professor Igor Pellicciari, a Professor working with Universities in Italy and in Russia, who was included by The Insider in their list of “fake experts”:

Surprisingly, so far, very few Italian journalists and academics did mention the “strange” cooperation of the University of Genoa with the Gorchakov Fund.


The North Atlantic Fella Organization (NAFO) is a social media movement dedicated to countering Russian propaganda and disinformation about the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine