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 2023
Yuliia Bondar, Ukraine
Yuliia is the editor-in-chief of Svidomi, an online independent media outlet for Ukrainian youth that provides up-to-date information about political, cultural, and social life in Ukraine. She also works as a freelancer for various Ukrainian media outlets, including Ukrainian Week, Zbruch, Divoche media, Zaborona, MediaLab.Online, The Fix, Drohobzch.City, The Ukrainians, Ukrainer, News, Eastern Version, Heading, and RFE/RL’s Donbas.Realities unit, where her focuses include domestic violence, civil society, and feminism. Previously, Yuliia worked as a correspondent for the information and advertising weekly TeleExpress and as a social media marketing manager at RenArts. Yuliia received her master‘s degree in journalism at the Ukrainian Catholic University. Yuliia’s native language is Ukrainian, but she also speaks English, Polish, and beginner-level Spanish.
Aliona Ciurca, Moldova
Aliona is a creative journalist with a commitment to high-quality research and writing. With more than six years of professional experience, she currently reports for Ziarul de Garda, an independent Moldovan newspaper dedicated to investigative reporting on corruption, organized crime, and human rights violations. Aliona is also in charge of “The Diaspora,” a volunteer project focusing on topics related to migration. She is a former contributor to Le Courrier des Balkans and Women Platform. Aliona has received several awards, including the Journalism of the Year Prize awarded by the Independent Journalism Center of Moldova. Aliona studied journalism at Moldova State University and received her bachelor's degree in world economics and international economics relations from the Academy of Economic Studies of Moldova. She is a native speaker of Romanian, fluent in Russian, and conversational in English and French.
Kateryna Hatsenko, Ukraine
Kateryna is a producer for Czech TV and a special correspondent for DELFI media. As a producer, she organizes filming for Czech TV in various locations in Ukraine and helps with translations. She also serves as a special correspondent covering news from Ukraine for DELFI. Since July 2021, Kateryna has been drafting reports, conducting interviews, and making videos for Ukrainian Channel 24. Previously, she gained experience as a freelance journalist for various other media, including RFE/RL. In the past, she was also a news editor for the CHAS NEWS agency and a PR manager at the Union of Voters of the City of Dnipro. Kateryna received her bachelor’s degree in journalism at the Oles Honchar Dnipro National University and studied TV journalism at the Kyiv National I. K. Karpenko-Karyi Theatre, Cinema and Television University. In 2019, she also took part in a program at the European Journalism Institute in Prague. Kateryna speaks native-level Ukrainian and Russian, conversational English, and beginner-level Czech and Spanish.
Luka Pertaia, Georgia
For the last four years, Luka has been working as a senior reporter for Netgazeti, an independent online Georgian-language news portal, where he covers Georgian social, economic, and transportation politics. He also writes about major events in the South Caucasus region. In 2019, Luka was awarded a prize for the best article in print/online media by the Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics. He previously produced news and feature stories about the Caucasus region for Open Caucasus Media. He also researched Georgia’s media landscape as a stringer at Mediachecker and worked as a freelance journalist for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting. Luka received his bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication at the Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University. His native language is Georgian, and he is also proficient in English and Russian.
Jiri Dienstbier Journalism Fellows 2023
Tamara Dichoska, North Macedonia
Tamara works at Sitel TV, where she is responsible for live reporting from the country’s Assembly, covering EU accession negotiations, live interviews, and creating stories focusing on human rights and child protection. Previously, she worked for TV24, reporting breaking news and covering education, social issues, and politics. Tamara also took part in activities of the Regional Youth Cooperation Office, an intergovernmental organization that promotes reconciliation, cooperation, and trust in the Western Balkans. She received her education in public relations at the Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje. She also received video production training from Reuters and PR training from Why Not Communications agency. Tamara’s mother tongue is Macedonian, and she also speaks fluent English, intermediate Spanish, and basic German.
Gresa Kraja, Kosovo
Gresa is currently the Regional Editor at Euronews Albania, where she is responsible for organizing daily coverage from Western Balkan countries. She previously held the position of media advisor and spokesperson for the President of Kosovo Atifete Jahjaga. She worked as a freelance correspondent and TV producer for the AP and as a web editor and multimedia producer for RFE/RL’s Balkan Service. She began her career at Klan Kosova Television, later moving to Zeri Newspaper in Prishtina. Gresa is a graduate of the European University of Tirana, where she received a bachelor’s degree in international relations and diplomacy. She also took part in the USAGM/VOA’s training on fact-checking and verification tools, as well as training with the Youth Initiative for Human Rights and a workshop with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network. She is a native speaker of Albanian and is fluent in English and Italian.
Czech Republic Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský Visits RFE/RL, Meets With 2022-2023 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.