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 Vaclav Havel Journalism Fellowship is available to aspiring, independent journalists in the European Union's Eastern Partnership countries and Russia.
- The Jiri 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 (VHJF) is a joint initiative of RFE/RL and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, generously supported by the Dagmar and Vaclav Havel Foundation Vize97. Launched in 2011, it is inspired by the late Czech leader’s belief in the transformational power of free speech, and builds on RFE/RL’s legacy of promoting more open societies through journalism.
Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs cites the VHJF in its 2018 Statement on the Occasion of World Press Freedom Day
The Jiri Dienstbier Journalism Fellowship (JDJF) is a joint program of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic and RFE/RL, funded by the Ministry. Launched in 2014, it is inspired by Jiri 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.
Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs cites the JDJF in its 2018 Statement on the Occasion of World Press Freedom Day
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 Jiri Dienstbier Journalism Fellowship
About Havel and Dienstbier
About Vaclav Havel
Václav Havel was the first post-revolutionary president of independent Czechoslovakia in 1989, and the first Czech president in 1993. He was also a renowned playwright, poet and essayist. Vaclav Havel's name is synonymous with peaceful resistance to authoritarianism and commitment to individual liberty and dignity.
About Jiri Dienstbier
While Havel is well-known internationally as the “philosopher king,” a former political prisoner who became president, there is another, less well-known figure in many of the iconic photographs of Havel from that time pictured with him, smiling warmly under a thick, tobacco-stained mustache.
Vaclav Havel Journalism Fellows 2021
Aren Melikyan, Armenia
Aren Melikyan worked for Media Initiatives Center, formerly known as Internews Armenia, and also for Chai-Khana.org, an award-winning regional media platform that engages with minority groups, women, rural communities, and conflict-affected communities in the Caucasus. He also contributed to the independent media outlet EVN Report, which offers a mix of political reporting, analysis, and commentary. Aren produces podcasts, multimedia stories and documentaries. Aren has also worked as a fact-checking journalist for Facts Investigation Platform (fip.am), and as a reporter for Public TV of Armenia. Aren, winner of “Tvapatum 2018” media award, has earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Working as a correspondent during the second Nagorno-Karabakh war (2020), Aren contributed and bylined for several international media outlets, such as CNN Digital and BBC World Service. In addition to his native Armenian, Aren also speaks English and Russian and elementary German.
Izzatkhanim Jabarli, Azerbaijan
Izzatkhanim Jabarli has worked for the past three years as a freelance journalist for media outlets in Azerbaijan and the Caucasus region. She also worked as a copy writer and content manager. Before that she was a video editor in chief and video reporter for Azerbaijan’s Toplum TV. Izzatkhanim studied Management and Business Administration at the Azerbaijan State University of Economics, and attended the Democracy School of Journalism in 2016, and has also received journalism and photojournalism training at the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs and at the Mentor Academy, Baku, Azerbaijan. In addition to her native Azerbaijani, Izzatkhanim also speaks Turkish, Russian and English.
Vitaŭt Siŭčyk, Belarus
Vitaŭt Siŭčyk is a TV journalist and news presenter for the Warsaw-based Belsat TV, and a radio journalist for Belarusian Radio “Racyja”. As a radio journalist he is responsible for conducting interviews, collecting news, and preparing radio broadcasts. Vitaŭt earned a master’s degree from the Center for East European Studies of the University of Warsaw. In addition to his native Belarusian language, Vitaŭt also speaks Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, English, Serbian and Croatian.
Sandro Gvindadze, Georgia
Sandro Gvindadze is a journalist with six plus years of experience working in media and the NGO sector. He currently works for the media organization ThroughTheNews as a reporter and creative manager. He also worked for the news agency Mediamall and contributed to Die Tageszeitung. Sandro earned a master’s degree in media and communication from Tbilisi State University, and has participated in numerous journalism-related internships, trainings, and seminars. In addition to his native Georgian, Sandro also speaks English and Russian.
Ekaterina Golenkova, Russia
Ekaterina Golenkova is a digital media producer for the online human rights project OVD-Info, where she has developed and implemented several digital media projects from idea generation through post-production. Prior to joining OVD-Info, Ekaterina worked as a contributing writer for the information portal “Takie Dela,” covering social topics in Russia. She earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees while studying at Russia’s Higher School of Economics. In addition to her native Russian, Ekaterina also speaks English.
Artur Korniienko, Ukraine
Artur Korniienko was most recently a staff writer at the Kyiv Post, a Ukrainian English-language newspaper, reporting on culture, social issues, business and politics, as well as doing some freelance work. Previously he worked at the independent Hromadske news channel, producing a weekly program about Eastern Europe for an international audience, and as a correspondent for UATV English, Ukraine’s international broadcaster. Artur has a master’s degree in journalism from the Ukrainian Catholic University. In addition to his native Ukrainian, he speaks English and Russian and is learning French.
Jiri Dienstbier Journalism Fellows 2021
Donika Gashi, Kosovo
Donika Gashi has worked as a journalist, producer, and co-host at Klan Kosova, a major national television network in Kosovo, since 2015. For the past four years, she has worked on “NIN,” a prime-time show devoted to social and cultural issues, where she has honed her interview skills and ability to address topics that are still considered a 'taboo' in Kosovo society. Donika has earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Pristina. In addition to her native Albanian, Donika also speaks English.
Teodora Cvetkovska, North Macedonia
Teodora Cvetkovska is a journalist with Telma TV, reporting on education and social justice issues. She is also a reporter for the investigative program “KOD with Sneyhana Lupevska.” Previously, she worked as an investigative reporter for Inbox 7 and for SCOOP Macedonia and the Center for Investigative Journalism, as well as for the website of Nova TV web and Fakulteti.mk. A winner of the “Voice of the Invisible” award from the Macedonian Anti-Poverty Platform, Teodora has studied journalism at the University “ss.Cyril & Methodius”, as well as optometry studies at the University “Goce Delchev”. In addition to her native Macedonian, Teodora also speaks English and Serbo-Croatian.
Czech Republic Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhanek Visits RFE/RL, Meets With 2020-2021 Vaclav Havel And Jiri Dienstbier Journalism Fellows
Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic Jakub Kulhanek visited Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s (RFE/RL) broadcast center in Prague on June 25, 2021, to meet with the 2020-2021 class of Vaclav Havel and Jiri Dienstbier Journalism Fellows. Kulhanek, together with RFE/RL President Jamie Fly, presented Certificates of Achievement to the Havel and Dienstbier Fellows, congratulating them on their exceptional journalistic talent and successful completion of the fellowship despite the challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Minister Kulhanek noted how important independent media are to the healthy development and defense of democracy and human rights, goals shares by both the Czech Foreign Ministry and RFE/RL. A concrete example of how these shared goals are put into practice, Kulhanek added, is the ministry’s longstanding partnership with RFE/RL on the Havel and Dienstbier Fellowship programs – one of several projects the ministry supports to promote press freedom globally.
The Fellows thanked Minister Kulhanek for his ministry’s support of the two Fellowship programs, and told the minister about their personal experiences in journalism and the political and financial challenges independent media face in their countries.