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2018 – 2019 Vaclav Havel Journalism And Jiri Dienstbier Journalism Fellows

2018-2019 Vaclav Havel and Jiri Dienstbier at the NED in Washington, D.C.
2018-2019 Vaclav Havel and Jiri Dienstbier at the NED in Washington, D.C.

Gulnar Salimova, Azerbaijan

Gulnar Salimova has worked as a journalist for over six years, reporting on domestic issues in Azerbaijan. Besides online journalism, Salimova also works as a photo-journalist and on making documentary films. Her first experimental short documentary essay was released in 2017, and explores femininity through the lives of transgender women. Currently she is working on a feature-length version of the film. Many of her visual stories were published on the multimedia platform, which covers stories from the South Caucasus. Salimova is the recipient of a grant for South Caucasus female photographers with the project “South Caucasus Photography Hub for Education and Innovation” sponsored by the Tbilisi Photography and Multimedia Museum, and is currently at work on a photo project about the Romani community in Azerbaijan. She has a Master’s degree from the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs on Multimedia Journalism. She speaks Azerbaijani, Russian, and English.

​Hermine Virabyan, Armenia

Hermine Virabyan is a freelance journalist from Armenia. She has worked for local and regional media companies, covering human rights, social, and political issues, and as a freelance photographer and videographer. One of her favorite genres is documentary, and she has done experimental work in VR. Virabyan was a correspondent for, a multimedia platform covering stories from the South Caucasus, and worked as a correspondent for, and She participated in the Young Journalists School of the Journalists Union of RA, from which she took her first steps in journalism, before graduating from the Journalism faculty of Yerevan State University. She also attended the Multimedia Summer School, organized by the Media Initiatives Center (formerly Internews). She speaks Armenian, English, Russian, and Spanish.

​Tornike Mandaria, Georgia

Tornike Mandaria is a Georgian journalist based in Tbilisi. He started his career at the start-up online media site, which soon became one of the leading independent news websites in Georgia. After two years of reporting on daily news and writing in-depth materials at, Mandaria started working freelance, covering Georgia for the unique media platform JAMnews. The platform brings together professional journalists from around the Caucasus, as well as authors and experts who seek to provide readers and viewers with accurate information from diverse points of view. JAMnews offers current affairs reporting, and professional and impartial analysis on major stories and trends in the Caucasus, including the conflicts in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Nagorno-Karabakh. Mandaria has also worked as a media critic and written about journalistic ethics and standards, the media environment, and business media. He is currently completing a Bachelor’s degree at Tbilisi State University in Journalism and Mass Communications. He speaks Georgian, English and Russian.​

​Victoria Colesnic, Moldova

Victoria Colesnic reports on social issues in the Republic of Moldova. She has worked for a number of independent Moldovan media outlets, where she produced multimedia stories on domestic violence, mental health, unemployment, and migration. For the last year, she worked as a local correspondent for VICE Romania. Colesnic has a Bachelor's degree in Journalism from Alexandru Ioan Cuza University in Romania and a Master’s in Culture, Collaborative Media, and Creative Industries from Malmö University, Sweden. She speaks Romanian, Russian, English, and French.

Karina Merkuryeva, Russian Federation

Karina Merkuryeva has worked for a number of independent Russian media outlets. She was a correspondent at “Imprisoned Russian” (Rus Sidyashaya), a human rights project that covers the rights of prisoners in Russia, and has worked for Deutsche Welle, writing about banned art in Russia and Russian courts. She has worked for Open Russia, an independent project engaged in defending the rights of citizens and, most recently, was a news editor for the Russian independent channel Rain (Dozhd), reporting on domestic and regional politics, business, and culture. Merkuryeva has just completed a Bachelor’s degree at Moscow’s Lomonosov State University in media business and business journalism. She is currently studying to be a programmer and is learning JavaScript. She speaks Russian, English, German, Spanish and now is learning Chinese.

Jiri Dienstbier Journalism Fellows 2018 - 2019

​Masha Durkalić, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Masha Durkalić is a journalist and feminist from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), working since 2002. In 2011 she began to focus on reporting and researching about women’s and LGBTI rights.
Durkalić is the editor of the first LGBT info portal in BiH, She is the author and editor of the publication Her Voice Echoes, a compilation of personal stories about women and investigative articles that explores the position of marginalized groups in BiH, and the co-creator of the initiative #ŽeneBiH, the first illustrated book on exceptional women throughout the country’s history. She is the editor of a series of advocacy documents that are part of the Feminist Advocacy Platform of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and a contributing author to a number of publications on LGBTI rights and topics published by the Sarajevo Open Center. She is a co-author of the media analysis, “Towards Positive Practice: Media Reporting about LGBTI Topics in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2016.” She is also the co-creator of the book #ŽeneBiH, an artistic, activist and research initiative that is comprised of biographies of over 50 BiH women who have broken stereotypes and advocated women’s rights and emancipation. Her investigative interests include social movements in southeastern Europe, with a focus on feminist activism.

Durkalić has a Master’s degree from the European Regional Master in Democracy and Human Rights program, is a fellow of the UN University Gender Equality and Training program of the University of Iceland, and is a Heinrich Boll associate. She graduated with a degree in Journalism from the Faculty of Political Sciences at the University of Sarajevo.

​Jovana Georgievski, Serbia

Jovana Georgievski is a Serbian journalist and a regular contributor to the Belgrade-based “Vreme” weekly news magazine and the Prishtina-based portal, Kosovo 2.0. Her areas of interest gravitate around situations of crisis, such as conflict and migration, and related processes such as protests and other anti-establishment citizen actions. Georgievski is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Russian Contemporary Literature and Crime Fiction at the University of Belgrade, as well as an international academic program in Conflictology at the United Nations Research and Training Center. She is fluent in English and Russian and has a working knowledge of Czech.