Vaclav Havel and Jiri Dienstbier Journalism Fellowship Programs
RFE/RL offers fellowship programs that provide mentoring and support for outstanding journalists dedicated to promoting human rights and democracy in our target regions.
- The Václav Havel Journalism Fellowship is available to aspiring, independent journalists in the European Union's Eastern Partnership countries and Russia.
- The Jiří Dienstbier Journalism Fellowship is available to aspiring, independent journalists in the western Balkans.
About Fellowship Programs
Fellows are selected as a result of a highly competitive process. They are placed with an appropriate language service at RFE/RL's Prague headquarters to receive on-the-job training and mentoring, while working alongside RFE/RL’s seasoned professionals. Programs equip Fellows with cutting-edge journalistic skills, and involve them in the daily editorial debates and discussions that inform a professional and independent press so that they may become standard-bearers of the profession and leaders in their communities, on-line, on air, and in the world.
The Václav Havel Journalism Fellowship is available to aspiring, independent journalists in the European Union's Eastern Partnership countries and the Russian Federation. The purpose of the Fellowship is to help aspiring journalists from the region pursue their profession in support of media pluralism and independence. Launched in 2011, the Fellowship is inspired by the late Czech president’s belief in the transformational role of journalism in challenging tyranny and oppression and builds on RFE/RL’s legacy of promoting more open societies through journalism. The Fellowship is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic and RFE/RL, which is co-funded by the Ministry.
The Jiří Dienstbier Journalism Fellowship is available to aspiring, independent journalists in the Western Balkans. The purpose of the Fellowship is to help aspiring journalists from the region pursue their profession in support of media pluralism and independence. Launched in 2014, it is inspired by Jiří Dienstbier Sr.’s contributions to the fields of journalism, foreign policy, and human rights, and intended to further RFE/RL’s legacy of promoting more just and open societies through journalism. The Fellowship is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic and RFE/RL, which is funded by the Ministry.
Fellowship Focus Map
Map of countries where the Václav Havel and Jiří Dienstbier Journalism Fellowships are available.
- Blue: The Václav Havel Journalism Fellowship
- Red: The Jiří Dienstbier Journalism Fellowship
About Havel and Dienstbier
About Václav Havel
Václav Havel served as the first post-revolutionary president of Czechoslovakia from 1989, and as the first president of the Czech Republic from 1993. He was also a renowned playwright, poet, and essayist. During his time as president of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic, Havel used his position of influence to speak out as an unyielding advocate for democratic voices the world over. Long a listener and supporter of RFE/RL, Havel invited RFE/RL to take up residence in Prague in 1995, planting RFE/RL’s headquarters in a city where its broadcasts were once banned.
About Jiří Dienstbier
Jiří Dienstbier Sr. was a well-esteemed Czech journalist, dissident, and diplomat. He began his career as a foreign correspondent for Czechoslovak Radio in the 1960s. Called back home after the 1968 invasion that he denounced on air; he was forced to take menial jobs. Dienstbier authored many samizdat articles on the poor state of human rights in Czechoslovakia. In 1979, the communist regime imprisoned him for three years. After the Velvet Revolution in 1989, he became Czechoslovakia’s first post-revolutionary Minister of Foreign Affairs. He was appointed UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Former Yugoslavia in 1998.
Vaclav Havel Journalism Fellows 2024
Julia Alekseeva, Belarus
Julia is a journalist and presenter at European Radio for Belarus. She creates radio programs, writes journalistic texts, and edits sound material. She is simultaneously involved in the Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network. Previously, Julia gained experience working as a scriptwriter for Belsat TV and the Belarusian Investigative Centre. As a reporter for Outriders, she coordinated the Unblock project, which was nominated for multiple awards. Julia holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and new media from Collegium Civitas in Warsaw and a master´s degree in documentary studies from the University of Warsaw. She is a native speaker of Belarusian and Russian and is fluent in Polish, Ukrainian, and English.
Cristian Bolotnicov, Moldova
Cristian worked as a journalist at Agora.md, covering politics, economy, IT, and culture, with a focus on historical news. Since the beginning of 2023, he has been involved in the investigative journalism mentorship organized by RISE Moldova, which has resulted in two published investigations into the low number of moral damages awarded by the Moldovan justice system and the illegal wiretapping phenomenon in Moldova. In the past, Cristian has worked on projects including PromoTE, organized by Moldovan human rights NGO Promo-LEX, as well as the Ratiu Forum’s Journalism Mentorship Program, during which he explored European integration with his mentor. Cristian holds a master´s degree in history and politics from Moldova State University, where he also served as an assistant project manager. He is a native speaker of Romanian, is proficient in English, and speaks beginner-level Italian and Russian.
Anton Kokaia, Georgia
Anton works as a multimedia reporter for Realpolitika in Tbilisi, where he covers European politics, hosts and participates in podcasts, and interviews international experts, politicians, and diplomats. He regularly features as a commentator for local and international TV channels. Anton previously worked at Tabula Media, where he focused on the economy and public policy. He holds a bachelor's degree in international relations from the Free University of Tbilisi and a master's degree in European politics from the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium. His mother tongue is Georgian, but he is fluent in English and German, has a working knowledge of French, and speaks some Russian.
Katya Mamyan, Armenia
Katya works as a data journalist at Infocom media. For the past three years, she has also been a data journalism instructor at Hetq Media Factory, where she teaches students how to work with data, as well as designs and develops educational programs. She is also a data journalism mentor with the LAMPA Accelerator project through the School of Data in Kyrgyzstan, where she conducts workshops and oversees cross-border, data-driven projects. She has attended programs such as the European Laboratory for Advanced Data Journalism at Interlink Academy for International Dialog and Journalism, the data communications fellowship at ForSet, and the JournalismAI Academy for Small Newsrooms at the London School of Economics. She holds a master’s degree in data journalism from the National Research University Higher School of Economics and a bachelor’s degree in information technology from the National University of Science and Technology MISIS. Katya is fluent in Armenian and Russian and proficient in English.
Iryna Matviyishyn, Ukraine
Iryna is an independent journalist covering human rights and conflict. She has worked as a video reporter at the Kyiv Independent and as a local producer with National Public Radio in Ukraine. She has also contributed to various media outlets, including the BBC, Monocle24, CNN, Times Radio, La Stampa, and many others, covering Russia’s full-scale war in Ukraine. Prior to that, Iryna worked as an analyst and project coordinator at Internews Ukraine and as a journalist at UkraineWorld in Kyiv. She created articles and videos about human rights issues and contributed to Ukrainian national and English-language media outlets such as the Atlantic Council, Balkan Insight, and New Eastern Europe. As a freelancer, she assisted French documentary projects in Kyiv and eastern Ukraine and translated them for French media. Iryna holds two master’s degrees: one in human rights and democratization from the European Inter-University Centre in Venice, and the other in journalism from Ivan Franko National University in Lviv. Iryna has also received mobile journalism training from the Thomson Foundation. Her mother tongue is Ukrainian, but Iryna is also fluent in English and Russian and has intermediate proficiency in Polish and French.
Daria Zakharova, Russia
Daria worked as a media researcher and journalist under the German Chancellor Fellowship at the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, where she cooperated with a range of German and European media, including Dekoder, Russland-Analysen, and Russian Analytical Digest. Her work focuses on topics including Russian propaganda, censorship, and warfare, as well as Russian-German relations. Previously, Daria worked in the communications field at a German consulting company in Moscow, Russia, where she monitored and wrote business-related news, updated the website, and created Russian- and English-language newsletters. She was also responsible for running a team of German and English-speaking editors. Daria holds a master's degree in public policy from the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy in Erfurt, Germany. She speaks native Russian and is also fluent in English and German.
Jiri Dienstbier Journalism Fellows 2023/24
Tijana Radulović, Montenegro
Tijana currently works as a journalist at Mina News Agency, where she covers daily socio-political news and hosts the video podcast MINA Intervju. She has previous journalistic experience from Gradski Portal, Inforbiro/Mediabiro video agency, and Antena M radio and portal, where she conducted interviews, reported on human interest stories, distributed press releases, and managed social media. During her time as a media monitor at OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights’ election observation mission, she monitored and analyzed the programs and articles related to electronic and print media on the national level. Tajiana is a member and co-founder of The Association of Science Journalists of Montenegro. She published articles including “Film as a Propaganda Tool: USA and USSR During the Cold War” and “Hidden Advertisement in Printed Media”19). In 2021, Tijana attended a Tech Camp in Kosovo on countering disinformation in the Balkans. She was also involved in student-led journalistic organizations such as Student radio KRŠ, Radio Crne Gore, and student portal Tragom. Tijana has a postgraduate degree in journalism from the University of Montenegro. Besides her native Serbo-Croatian, she is fluent in English, has limited proficiency in French, and has a beginner-level understanding of German and Italian.
Arta Sopi, Kosovo
Arta is a journalist with six years of experience. Recently, she worked for the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN-Kosovo), where she covered topics such as politics, social issues, and economics, while also contributing to investigations and monitoring public recruitment processes in Kosovo. She also worked at Zëri and interned at Koha Ditore, where she covered conferences and wrote daily news. Arta has attended multiple training courses, including Truaktiv Summit at Sbunker, video reporting training at Kosovo 2.0, and public speaking at Iliria College. She is currently finishing her master´s degree in public administration and diplomacy at AAB College. Arta´s native language is Albanian, and she is also proficient in English and Turkish.
Czech Republic Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský Visits RFE/RL, Meets With 2023 Vaclav Havel And Jiri Dienstbier Journalism Fellows
RFE/RL President Jamie Fly introduced the 2023 cohort of Václav Havel and Jiří Dienstbier Journalism Fellows to Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Jan Lipavský. President Fly expressed his gratitude for the Czech Republic’s ongoing support of the Fellowships, which allows the next generation of journalists to gain skills and experience at RFE/RL.