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Previous Vaclav Havel Journalism Fellows

U.S. -- Vaclav Havel Fellows Irina Gotsian (L), Seda Stepanyan (C) and Tahmina Taghiyeva (R) visit the Washington, DC bureau of Bloomberg News on 08Apr2013
U.S. -- Vaclav Havel Fellows Irina Gotsian (L), Seda Stepanyan (C) and Tahmina Taghiyeva (R) visit the Washington, DC bureau of Bloomberg News on 08Apr2013
Class of 2012-2013

Irina Gotisan, a journalist specializing in visual media and documentary film, is fulfilling her fellowship in Prague with RFE/RL’s Moldova Service. From 2010-2012, Gotisan worked as a reporter covering political and social issues for TV Moldova 1, a national, public television channel. A recipient of the Chisinau Press Club’s “Hope of the Year” award in 2010, Gotisan has held several journalism internships, including one with AICI Network, a media program funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID). In 2006, Gotisan joined the International Relations faculty at “Perspectiva International” University in Chisinau, where she taught courses on globalization and international relations. Gotisan is a 2012 graduate of the Television School in Bucharest, Romania and holds a Masters degree from the Academy of Public Administration in Chisinau. A native of Basarabeasca, Moldova, Gotisan is fluent in Romanian, Russian and English.

Seda Stepanyan, a playwright and journalist, is fulfilling her fellowship in Prague with RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. In 2012, Stepanyan produced content for the Armenian news website, while in 2010 she helped write the script for the Armenian television program “Mankapatum.” Stepanyan is the author of several plays, including “Striptiz,” which won a grant from the Open Society Foundations to be staged in Yerevan this spring; “Waiting for Death,” (awarded ninth place in the 2011 BBC World Service’s Radio Playwright Competition); and “And The Sun Went On Shining Cynically" (a regional award winner in the same competition in 2012). Stepanyan holds a Bachelor’s degree from Yerevan State Linguistic University and has studied Classical Vocal and Teaching Practice at the Yerevan State Conservatory. While at university, Stepanyan won first prize for a student work at the annual Na/Ne media competition organized by the British Council. Stepanyan lives in Yerevan and is fluent in Armenian, English and Russian.

Tahmina Taghiyeva, a multi-media journalist interested in human rights issues, is fulfilling her fellowship in Prague with RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani Service. Taghiyeva is serving concurrently as the video editor of a regional reporting project with the Institute of War and Peace Reporting (IWPR). Before coming to Prague, Taghiyeva worked as a journalist, editor and project coordinator with the Ganja Media Center, located in Azerbaijan’s second largest city. From 2007-2011, she worked in the western regional office of Azerbaijan’s ANS TV, where she produced and anchored shows for television stations in Ganja and Yevlakh. She has worked for several newspapers, and has recently launched her own video channel and blog. Taghiyeva’s courageous reporting earned her a 2013 Norwegian Fritt Ord and German Zeit Foundation Press Prize. Originally from Ganja, she has a Bachelor’s degree in Tourism and Service Management from Azerbaijan Technological University and speaks Azerbaijani, Turkish, Russian and English.

Class of 2011-2012

Franak Viačorka, the first Vaclav Havel Journalism Fellow at RFE/RL, is a journalist, filmmaker and political activist from Minsk, Belarus. Franak has worked as a journalist and editor for several independent publications in Belarus, including as a freelancer for the BelaPAN news agency (2005-2008), as executive editor of the Belarusan Popular Front’s monthly journal “Naviny BNF” (2005-2008) and since 2011 as director of the “Citizen Journalist” initiative Viačorka also worked from 2008-2012 with the independent satellite TV channel Belsat. Since completing his Fellowship, he has continued to work with RFE/RL as the Belarus Service's New Media Manager and as a presenter on the RFE/RL Belarus Service program "Zona Svobody."

In 2006 Viačorka starred in the award-winning documentary, “A Lesson of Belarusian,” which chronicled his life as a pro-democracy youth activist in the run-up to the country’s 2006 presidential elections. He is also the co-screen writer and second director of a 2013 film, “Viva Belarus,” about his army service and the circumstances faced by young conscripts.