Human Rights Camera - A Photo Blog by Civil Society Activists for the Public >>


"Europe Lab": And the Winners Are... >>

E-Day: Young Observers at the Russian State Duma Elections >>
Secure Energy: Life with and without Nuclear Waste >>

Anatoli Lebedev (BROC, Vladivostok, Russia): 'For Officials, It is More Comfortable to Work with Large Businesses, While Russia is an Immense Agricultural Country' >>

German-Russian Exchange (Berlin, Germany): "Autumn Talks" 2016 >>
Sutiazhnik (Yekaterinburg, Russia): Call for Applications - The 8th Ural School of Human Rights >>
Heinrich Böll Foundation (Berlin, Germany): Anne Klein Women's Award 2017 >>


Human Rights Camera - A Photo Blog by Civil Society Activists for the Public

On request of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum, Olga Fedorina, Administrative Officer at Östgruppen (Stockholm, Sweden), is telling about a new project of the group - the Human Rights Camera:


In May 2016, a brandnew project - Human Rights Camera - was initiated by Östgruppen (Swedish Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights). It will last until December 2016.

We picked up a photo blog format for this project, since it enables us to display the information in a very specific way. Every week, we publish 1-2 pictures with news followed or a story provided by one of our four participants. Our goal was to convey the state of human rights in Russia and engage the Swedish public in the topic by showing a view of civil activists encountering a lot of obstacles in their field of work. We decided to use English as our blog’s language, as we are sure that it will help to broaden the audience and attract people not only from this country but also from abroad.

As a part of the project, four human rights activists from different parts of Russia tell about their daily work giving us a chance to get to know their plans, activities, friends, and colleagues.

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"Europe Lab": And the Winners Are...

On 30 August 2016, a competent jury made the final selection of the projects, which had been submitted by participants of the Forum for Young Professionals "Europe Lab" 2016.

The funding will be granted to the International Network on Legal Assistance to Refugees, or INLAR (pro bono legal help to migrants and refugees); the International Movie Evenings "I Do Care" (overcoming of stereotypes in German, Russian, and Ukrainian societies by means of documentary screenings in Dnipropetrivsk, Leipzig, St. Petersburg, and Vologda); the "Human Faces of Conflicts" Project (online video and blog platform with stories by people from conflict areas in the Balkans, the Caucasus, and the Eastern Europe); and the #medialogue Project (media analysis of the events of 1990-1991 with teenagers as well as historians and journalists from Croatia, Germany, Italy, Macedonia, Slovenia, and Ukraine).

Each team will get up to 2,500 euros for the implementation of the project. The results will be presented at the 7th General Assembly of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum on 1-3 February 2017 in Helsinki, Finland.

2nd Forum for Young Professionals “Europe Lab” was held on 21-24 July 2016 in Zagreb and Vukovar, Croatia. It brought together around 80 young people aged between 25 and 35 from 26 European countries working in NGOs, think tanks, universities, business, public administration, and other fields of professional engagement. The Forum was organised by the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum in cooperation with the "Documenta" Centre for Dealing with the Past, the Memorial Centre of the Homeland War Vukovar, and the German-Russian Exchange as well as supported by the European Commission, the Robert Bosch Stiftung, and the Oak Foundation.


E-Day: Young Observers at the Russian State Duma Elections

The "Young Election Observers" Project being implemented by the Polish Forum of Young Diplomats in cooperation with the European Platform for Democractic Elections and supported within the Open Call Mechanism (OCM) is reaching its culmination.

On 18 September 2016, the State Duma Elections will take place in Russia. Although independent observers face problems with access to the polling stations, young people will get an opportunity to follow the elections online by watching records from the cameras intalled in six Russian regions. The observation will be preceded by two trainings on 16 and 17 September 2016 as well as followed up by a series of meetings with domestic election observers from Russia between 20 and 25 September 2016 in Warsaw, Poland.

There are still few places left for those, who are interested in the mission: The deadline for applications is 8 September 2016.

More information on the application process and the project's progress is available here.


Secure Energy: Life with and without Nuclear Waste

Following the motto "Nuclear Waste Under Civilian Oversight!", the team of the "Public Participation and Civial Oversight on the Radioactive Waste Management in the EU and Russia" Project supported within the Open Call Mechanism (OCM) launched the website "Safety of the Radioactive Waste".

The major task of the website is informing the Russian-speaking audience on issues related to storage and handling of nuclear waste. Such questions have been high on the agenda not only in Russia, where the storage prospects nearby Cheliabinsk, Krsanoyarsk, St. Petersburg, Tomsk, and Yekaterinburg have been debated, but also for EU states. At the webpage, not only own materials have been published but also news on problems with spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste in Bulgaria, China, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, the Great Britain, Japan, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, and further states, including those with nuclear power plants being erected - such as Belarus.  

The project has been implemented by the Environmental Human Rights Centre BELLONA (St. Petersburg, Russia) in cooperation with organisations Plotina.Net! (Krasnoyarsk, Russia), Russian-German Bureau for Environmental Information (St. Petersburg, Russia), German-Russian Exchange (Berlin, Germany) and Independent Institute for Environmental Issues (Berlin, Germany). In June 2016, the international project team travelled to Finland and Sweden with a working visit. For 26-30 September 2016, another visit to France and Germany is planned.


Anatoli Lebedev (BROC, Vladivostok, Russia): 'For Officials, It is More Comfortable to Work with Large Businesses, While Russia is an Immense Agricultural Country'

To watch the interview on YouTube in Russian, please follow the link

Mr Lebedev, thank you very much that you agreed to give an interview to the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum. Your initiative group was formed in Soviet times already, in 1989, and - as the BROC Public Organisation - obtained an NGO status in 1997. Which major directions of your work have been determined in this period? What issues are you tackling with right now?

First of all, I would like to tell about our working formats. At the very beginning, there was only a group of journalists and scientists concerned about the issues of natural resources management and wildlife protection from nuclear waste in the Far East. We closely worked with Greenpeace – both with the International one and the Russian office. At that time, I was a deputy in the regional Legislative Assembly. It helped a lot, especially in terms of access to information. In 1995, we launched our own bi-weekly programme on a regional TV Channel – “Zapovedano” (“Entrusted”). It was a very exhausting technical work but also a great achievement for the whole region, as we highlighted not only negative events but also positive developments: These were the time, when authorities, legislators, and the government rather considerably cared for the environmental protection. In 2004, the programme ceased to exist. Yet, since 2001 we have been publishing a regional journal “Ecology and Business”. Now to the directions of our work. As we are primarily a journalist organisation, we are interested in all aspects of environmental protection – management of marine resources and forestry, legislation in the field of environmental protection, indigenous peoples, with whom we have been closely collaborating. But our major area of interest is forestry – timber complex, illegal deforestation, forest certification, etc.

Speaking of forestry, I was told that you encountered illegal forest cuts and a non-sufficient forest regeneration, which is a rather common problem for Russia as a whole. Can you tell me, what the other most acute issues are – amendments to the Forest Code, anything else?

The main obstacle for the forestry and the forest business is certainly the flaws of our legislation, which has been constantly deteriorating. The latest Forest Code reform of 2007 seemed to have resolved an important legal problem – to separate forest and land resources. But eventually it just designed a more comfortable environment for corruption, which we are trying to fight now. It created an enormous number of loopholes for corrupted officials and businessmen, which leads to devastation of the most valuable forests. And this is our pain in the neck. In the Far East, especially in the South of Primorye, there are the most valuable forests of the temperate zone with a variety of rare species. But this is the area of rich businessmen with good connections, who earn money by cutting the wood. This issue concerns all the regions, where such forests are located, as well as big cities. At the moment, the All-Russian People’s Front and us do our best to gradually counter those abuses.

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German-Russian Exchange (Berlin, Germany): "Autumn Talks" 2016

'Is There a Way Out between Principles and Pragmatism? Perspectives of a European Conflict Resolution in Eastern Ukraine' - this is the title of the annual "Autumn Talks" Conference to be held on 8 November 2016 in Berlin, Germany.

This year’s "Autumn Talks" organised by the German-Russian Exchange and the Heinrich Böll Foundation focus on the conflict in Donbas. Shortcomings in the current peace process as well as conceivable solutions will be considered. In parallel to the conference, a network meeting of NGO actors dealing with civil societal means of conflict resolution from Ukraine, Russia, and other European countries will take place.

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Sutiazhnik (Yekaterinburg, Russia): Call for Applications - The 8th Ural School of Human Rights

On 22-25 September 2016, the participants of the International School of Human Rights organised by the NGO "Sutiazhnik" in Yekaterinburg will have a unique chance to hear about practices of privacy protection from the judges and lawyers of the Secretariat of the European Court of Human Rights. Further on, law practitioners will share their experiences of privacy protection in Russia and other countries, who are in charge for strategic court cases.

The visit of two international experts to the school is supported by the "EU-Russia Legal Dialogue" Programme of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum.

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Heinrich Böll Foundation (Berlin, Germany): Anne Klein Women's Award 2017

The Heinrich Böll Foundation calls for nominations of candidates for the 2017 Anne Klein Women’s Award. With this distinction, the foundation honours women, who courageously and perseveringly advocate human rights, equality, and sexual self-determination. The award includes prize money of EUR 10,000 and has been bestowed since 2012. The awardees come from Germany and abroad.

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