Our former Fellows

Fellowships are designed for leading members of civil society and researchers from Eastern Europe and Central Asia to conduct intensive research, writing and networking.

We bring fellows from the region to Prague, to focus on their projects in a safe space, away from the daily routine of their organisations and home countries to help them connect with other groups and individuals from across the EU.

The range of fellows and types of projects we support are diverse, including journalists, lawyers, entrepreneurs, protestors and political prisoners working on everything from articles and books to films and comic strips. We encourage fellows to take a step back from their day-to-day routine to help them re-strategise, think and plan for the future of their society.


Yaroslav Minkin


Yaroslav is chairperson of the board of the Ukrainian youth NGO “STAN”.

He works in western Ukraine as a human rights defender, and has more than ten years of experience in organising public awareness campaigns to defend public interests, and has experience in the civil sector conducting trainings, lectures and facilitating events gathering local human rights defenders and activists.

His fellowship project is entitled: “Democracy defenders – action plan for Ukrainian youth centres,” and examined the best practices of youth advisory bodies in Ukraine, and create educational programme for Ukrainian youth centres.

Alexander Iscenco


Alexandr  is from Moldova, and an experienced and well-known member of the civil society sector in the country.

He is the co-founder and president of the MEGA-initiative, which is a social-entrepreneurial organisation founded in 2013.

He has a lot of experience in start-ups within the civil society sector, especially concerning environmentalism and environmental economy, in which he has a degree.

His fellowship project is called: “Engage ‘em all!”, and is a study on civil society engagement and collaborative activism in nature conservation and similar, with the use of innovative methods.

Tinatin Khidasheli


Tinatin is a highly qualified professional from Georgia, with over 24 years of experience in research, academia, activism, politics and think tank activities.

Tinatin has worked in many different positions, especially concerning the national security of Georgia. She has been elected to the Tbilisi City Council, the National Parliament of Georgia, and served as Minister of Defence.

Her fellowship project is entitled: “National security architecture under the constantly changing threats and challenges”.

Arzu Geybulla


Arzu Geybulla (Kurtulus) is Azerbaijani columnist and journalist, with special focus in human rights and press freedom in Azerbaijan. Some of her work has been featured on Al Jazeera, Open Democracy, Eurasianet, Foreign Policy Democracy Lab, Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty as well as Meydan TV, Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso and Global Voices. She is the recipient of the 2014 Vaclav Havel Journalism Fellowship with the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. In 2014, Arzu was featured on BBC 100 Women Changemakers. Arzu recently completed her research on information controls in Azerbaijan at the Berkman Klein Center at Harvard.

Fatima Yakupbaeva


Fatima is a Kyrgyz lawyer and has, since 2012, been general director of the “Precedent” law firm. She specialises in labour rights, non-profit law and media questions from a legal perspective. She has collaborated with the Prague Civil Society Centre before, and it was great to have her as a fellow where she worked on the sustainability of the NGO sector in Kyrgyzstan. Her project:

The self-sufficiency and sustainability of non-commercial organisations”.

Olga Myrovych


Olga is a project manager at the School of Journalism at Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv. She is responsible for fundraising strategies with the School of Journalism, and has been responsible for developing projects worth more than a million EUR in total. She worked on the NGO sector’s sustainability prospects. The title of her fellowship project is:

Seeking for sustainable solutions for civil society organizations by exploring the opportunities of CSR strategies”.

Aleksey Bratachkin


Aleksey is a  historian from Belarus and one of the founders of ECLAB.

Aleksey’s fellowship project focused on historical memory of the Republic of Belarus. The title of his fellowship project is:

“Clicking the refresh button of memory: Debates in contemporary Belarus on its 20th century history (1988-2018).”

Pamira Sainazarova


Pamira is a consultant and civil society entrepreneur from Kyrgyzstan. She has university degrees in both microfinancing and law, and she has worked on civil society initiatives locally. With her work, she is aiming to contribute to developing the understanding of social enterprises in Kyrgyzstan.

Pamira conducted research on enterprises and human rights advocacy in the Czech Republic – and has taken her analysis and experience of best practices in the Czech sector with her back to Kyrgyzstan. Her project is entitled:

Social enterprises in the Czech Republic: Experience in dealing with human rights issues. Considerations for Kyrgyzstan”.

Nazira Darimbet


Nazira is a Kazakh journalist, with many years of experience in independent media within Kazakhstan. Nazira’s fellowship project:

“The survival of independent media and methods of pressure of totalitarian regimes”.

Through her project, she  explored successful methods for independent media to exist in countries such as Kazakhstan, and investigated methodologies from other post-soviet countries. She also examined the working conditions for exiled media outlets.

Vlada Ciobanu


Vlada Ciobanu trains activists to run grassroots campaigns and online communications, and has five years of experience in development projects to increase public participation in the national and local political process. She has a MA degree in Global Media and Communications from Warwick University (UK), and a Bachelor’s in Political Science from the Moldova State University. She has experience in crowdfunding campaigns and is a team leader for the first online platform in Moldova which monitors the local decision-making process. She is also an established blogger.

Project: Civil society and foreign aid in Moldova – how to empower a self-sustaining civil society.

Read about Vlada’s project

Bektour Iskender


Bektour is the co-founder of Kloop, an independent, youth-led media organisation in Kyrgyzstan. Kloop is one of the leading independent news websites in Kyrgyzstan and runs its own journalism school to train young people to cover politics, culture and run investigations. All of its reporters are between 14-25 and Kloop places an emphasis on technology-led journalism. As a reporter, Bektour extensively covered the Ukrainian crisis in the aftermath of the Euromadian protest. In 2016, Bektour won a TED fellowship and delivered a talk at TED2016.

Project: Bektour spent his fellowship creating an online platform for exiled media outlets. He will explain how newsrooms can work outside of countries and detail when and how independent publishers should consider setting up in exile.

Read about Bektour’s project

Rasul Jafarov


Rasul is a lawyer, former political prisoner and one of Azerbaijan’s most prominent human rights defenders. Rasul has organised a number of protests and events highlighting the lack of democracy in Azerbaijan, including the 2012 “Sing for Democracy” campaign to coincide with Azerbaijan hosting the Eurovision song contest, “Art for Democracy” and the “Expression Online Initiative”. He is the founder and chair of the Human Rights Club, an Azerbaijani group which has been denied legal registration.

Project: Rasul worked on his memoirs from the 20 months he spent in prison between 2014-2016. He cataloged conversations he had with fellow prisoners and used the fellowship to explain the dynamics between prison authorities, prisoners and political prisoners inside Azerbaijan’s legal system.

Read about Rasul’s project

Valeria Korablyova


Dr Valeria Korablyova is a researcher who has held a number of fellowships at international institutes and universities, with her primary focus on the EuroMaidan, the EU and post-Communist transitions in Ukraine and Central & Eastern Europe. Her most recent fellowship was at the University of Warsaw (FIAL Open Society Foundations Global Dialogues Project, 2016-17) and she has also worked at the IWM in Vienna (Ukraine in European Dialogue Project, 2015-16), and Stanford University in the USA (Carnegie Research Fellowship Programme, 2014-15). She holds a PhD in Philosophy from VN Karazin Kharkiv National University and a doctoral degree from the Shevchenko National University in Kyiv. Her latest book, “Social Meanings of Ideology”, published in 2014 by Kyiv University, explores the ideological transformation of European modernity, including the rise of market rationality and emerging alternatives, looking specifically at how the Maidan uprising in Ukraine fits into these narratives.

Project: The ambiguity of nationalism in East Central Europe: right-wing international vs. post-imperial liberation

Read about Valeria’s project

Avetik Mejlumyan


Avetik is a lecturer at Yerevan State University in the department of sociology. He has developed several academic courses, including “social technologies”, “church and social work”, “strategic planning” and “institutional social work”. He has also produced three policy reports on labour rights in Armenia and anti-corruption policy in the education sector. He holds a PhD in Social Philosophy and a Master’s degree with honours from YSU, specialising in social work.

Project: Avetik’s project studied civil society in the Czech Republic and its development since the 1990s. He aimed to draw lessons from the Czech experience which can help advance civil society in Armenia.

Read about Avetik’s project

Aina Shormanbayeva


Aina is a human rights defender and lawyer in Kazakhstan. She is president of the International Legal Initiative Public Foundation, which focuses on political and civil rights, including freedom of assembly and association, freedom of movement and freedom from slavery. Another important scope of its activity is education on human rights and the development of independent civil society. She provides legal assistance to vulnerable groups including political prisoners, trafficking victims, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. Aina also studies draft legislation and advises law enforcement agencies, judges and lawyers across Central Asia on human rights issues. She has written widely about law and order in Kazakhstan.

Project: Aina explored the legal, technical and practical means by which the Kazakh authorities are crowding out civil society.

Read about Aina’s project

Yulia Tyshchenko


Yulia specialises in inter-ethnic relations in Ukraine and Crimea, looking at combating discrimination, intercultural dialogue, developing civil society institutions, the domestic political process and analysis of public governance, administration and executive power. She is currently based at the Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research. In 2014-2015, she led monitoring projects in Crimea with the UNDP and OSCE, conducting research on language and ethnic policies. She was previously an expert on Crimean political dialogue and peace building for the international institute PATRIR, where she also led a project on discrimination. She has also been a project director for an investigation into inter-ethnic relations in Crimea for the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities. Yulia has advised various state organisations, including the Presidential Administration, Office of National Security and the Defence Council of Ukraine, as a consultant on inter-ethnic relations and the situation in Crimea.

Olena Strelnyk


Olena Strelnyk is an associate professor at the Department of Philosophy, Social and Political Studies at Poltava National Technical Yuri Kondratyuk University.

Her field of research is motherhood and gender perceptions in contemporary Ukraine.

During her fellowship, she plans to work on a series of articles, and an academic paper, which could form the basis of a book, on: “Gender as a national threat: How to empower women and promote gender equality in a challenging context”

Olga Lvova


Olga Lvova is an expert in management and communications. She has published numerous books and articles on Ukrainian politics, foreign policy and the role of think tanks.

As well as her academic background, Olga has worked in civil society and media. In 2016, she established the Think Twice UA Initiative to promote and research think tanks in Ukraine.

In Prague, she will be working on an analytical paper: “Recipes of success from Visegrad think tanks and their communication experience for Ukraine”.

Savia Hasanova


Savia Hasanova has over a decade of experience with economic research and data analysis. Since 2016, she has worked with the Central Asian Analytical Network, which produces data-driven publications.

She has worked as a journalist and data-journalism trainer with Bellingcat, OCCRP, School of Data in Kyrgyzstan, Deutche Welle, UNDP and Meduza, among others.

During her Fellowship, she will work on a series of in-depth articles on the “draconian patterns of Kyrgyzstan’s judicial system”.

Yanina Karalevich-Kartel


Yasia Karelevich Kartel is an activist, who has created media platforms to spread and share her ideas and values. She co-established the media platform citydog.by and its sister platforms “Grassroots” and “Kak eto lyubit’”.

While in Prague, she plans to finish 90s.by, a site where she is publishing 100 articles about the first decade of Belarusian independence.

Anna Loktionova


Anna, originally an engineer, is an independent art manager and curator, LGBT+ rights activist, and director of Dotyk. Dotyk is a cultural educational institution in Belarus which uses art, festivals and exhibitions to explore the subjects of identity and self-determination. Recently, she worked as a co-curator of a festival of queer culture, and a director and curator of an alternative cultural space, CanteenXYZ. Anna plans to use her fellowship in Prague to compose an art-book “CanteenXYZ: Space, Communities, Communication” about the experience of running a public cultural space, and what happened when it was shut down under pressure from the authorities.


Babutsa Pataraia


Babutsa is director of Sapari Union, a Tbilisi-based women’s rights organisation striving to create an equal, non-discriminatory environment for women in Georgia. She is also Chair of Human Rights House Tbilisi, and previously founded the Georgian Women’s Movement, a group uniting 3,000 women in various advocacy campaigns. During her fellowship, Babutsa plans to complete her book, “Secret Stories of Girls” – a collection of stories frequently told among teenage girls on taboo topics, such as incest, harassment, rape, virginity, menstruation and sexuality.

Atyr Abdrakhmatova


Atyr is a jurist and an advocate for transparency in Kyrgyzstan’s judicial and electoral system. She teaches law at the International University in Central Asia, and previously worked at Kyrgyzstan’s election commission. She has extensive experience as a legal expert for various civic organisations, and as an advisor to the UN, OSCE, World Bank and others. During her fellowship, Atyr will analyse the financing of elections, candidates and political parties in Kyrgyzstan to prepare best practice guidelines and recommendations to improve transparency within the election process.