East and Southeast Europe
The Regional Office FNF ESEE covers 23 countries in East and Southeast Europe. The Regional Office in Sofia coordinates the following Project Offices in the region: Bulgaria and North Macedonia, Greece, Romania and Moldova, Western Balkans, Russia and Central Asia, Ukraine and Belarus, South Caucasus and Turkey.
Prisoner of Conscience: Elchin Ismayilli
Find out the story of the released prisoner of conscience. In March 2021, thanks to a presidential pardon, more than 30 secular and religious opposition figures, have been released from prison in Azerbaijan. Among them is as well the journalist Elchin Ismayilli unjustly incarcerated. In mid-February 2017, police arrested Azerbaijani journalist Elchin Ismayilli and later charged him with bribery, extortion, and abuse of power.
Russian Media and the Rule of Silence
Learn more about how the authorities in Russia are trying to silence independent media. The event “Rule of Silence” was jointly organized by the Kennan Institute and FNF. The distinguished panelists are Pavel Chikov – a Russian lawyer, a human rights advocate and head of the Agora group; Ivan Pavlov – a Team 29 representative; Roman Anin – investigative journalist, ex-partner of OCCRP and editor-in-chief of Important Stories media. Moderated by Sergey Parkhomenko.
Prisoner of Conscience: Marfa Rabkova
On September 17, officers from the Interior Ministry detained a Belarusian human rights advocate, Marfa Rabkova, and her husband. A week later, Rabkova was charged with planning to incite riots, an accusation which both Belarusian and international human rights advocates see as unjust and fabricated. If convicted, she faces up to three years in jail.
When activism meets law
Denitsa Lyubenova is a human rights lawyer and LGBTI activist who helps people live normal lives and enjoy equal rights in Bulgaria.
She is not a stereotypical lawyer — her mission for many years is to achieve justice and equal human rights for people from different communities. Denitsa helped establish the LGBTI organisation Deystvie (meaning “action”) and now, as its legal expert, helps it change the lives and protect the rights of all groups in society. She has helped children receive citizenship, made marriages legally acknowledged, and facilitated access to medicine for HIV patients.
Bringing education to the table
The up-and-coming Turkish politician Zeynep Dereli believes more female representation will change the political agenda for the better. There are many reasons to trust the judgement of this aspiring politician, education leader, businessperson with two decades of experience in several industries, and mother of two. But if need to single one out, it would be her firm belief in the great future of her country and its women. “The first word that comes to my mind when you ask me how I feel about being back in my country is hopeful. Why? Because I feel, there is an increasing demand for female representation in politics in Turkey as well as for equity in all aspects of life.”
Defending what is right
Georgian politician and civic mover and shaker Tinatin Khidasheli has been immersed in the fight for justice for 30 years – and is ready for the next 30 to come. Tinatin is the type of person for whom the use of “fighter” in the expression “freedom fighter” is well deserved. In her three decades of civic activism, she has gone from clashing with the Soviet-era militsiya (police) in the final year before the fall of the USSR to defending in court the basic rights of those ostracised by the new Georgian state, from advocating the need for EU integration of her country in Parliament, to reforming its military.
Freedom Team Interview: Martin Kothé in Focus
Meet Martin Kothé, our new Regional Director for FNF East and Southeast Europe and Project Director for Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Greece since August 2020. Learn more about his professional journey and personal manifesto. Martin Kothé has joined FNF in early 2020 after 10 years as a Managing Director for FTI Consulting in Berlin, a US strategic communications consultancy. From 2004 to 2010, Martin was working as spokesperson to the German President Horst Köhler during his tenure in office. Prior to that, Martin served as communications director and spokesperson of the German liberal party FDP affiliated to FNF (1999 - 2004). He started his career in journalism, learning the trade in the German Section of the BBC's World Service from 1988 - 1991.
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