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The Guardian: Tantric yoga guru arrested in France for human trafficking

28-11-2023 |

French authorities have arrested the leader of a multinational tantric yoga organisation on suspicion of indoctrinating women for sexual exploitation.

The Romanian guru was detained on Tuesday morning during a major police operation across the Paris region, according to a French judicial official, who was not authorised to speak publicly about an ongoing investigation.

The French official identified the man as Gregorian B, whom French media identified as Gregorian Bivolaru, 71, an internationally known yoga teacher and author.

Gregorian Bivolaru being arrested in 2004 in Bucharest, Romania, where he was convicted of raping a minor.
Photo: AFP/Getty Images

The investigation into Bivolaru and his yoga federation, the Movement for Spiritual Integration into the Absolute (Misa), began after reports of psychological manipulation and sexual exploitation within the organisation, according to the official. Former Misa members alerted authorities to the alleged abuses.

Bivolaru is being charged with human trafficking, organised kidnapping, rape and organised abuse of weakness by members of a sect, according to French authorities.

The international police agency Interpol has issued a notice for Bivolaru’s arrest on behalf of authorities in Finland, where he is wanted for alleged aggravated trafficking in human beings.

Websites associated with Bivolaru alleged he was the victim of a wide-ranging plot to discredit him.

The raids in France involved 175 police officers and resulted in 40 other arrests across the French capital, Seine-et-Marne, Val-de-Marne and the Alpes-Maritimes.

The operation targeted several locations used by the organisation, where women were reportedly indoctrinated and coerced into sexual practices. The locations, described as “ashrams”, served as housing for women selected by Bivolaru for initiation into Tantric yoga practices, according to French authorities.

Bivolaru, who was convicted of raping a minor in Romania, founded Misa in 1990.

The French investigation found evidence that students were coerced into sexual activities that included participating in explicit video chats for monetary gain.

These alleged activities, purportedly carried out under the pretense of Tantric yoga teachings, formed part of an intricate system of financial exploitation and control, the official said.

Source: The Guardian