Source: Prague Post www.praguepost.com / By Raymond Johnston /
Prague, Czech Republic- December 23, 2015 – RFE/RL has welcomed the 2015–16 Václav Havel Journalism Fellows to its Prague offices for an eight-month program of professional development aimed at supporting independent journalists in countries lacking a free press.
This year’s Havel Fellows are from Armenia Azerbaijan, Belarus, Ukraine and Russia.
Launched in 2011, the program is guided by the late Czech President Václav Havel’s belief in the transformational power of free speech, RFE-RL said in a press release.
Intended specifically for journalists from Eastern Partnership countries located in the European Union neighborhood, and Russia, the fellowship aims to prepare “the next generation of journalists committed to professionalism and pluralism,” said Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs Political Secretary Petr Drulák in remarks earlier this month.
Two Jiří Dienstbier Journalism Fellows also joined RFE/RL in December, in a parallel program designed to support aspiring journalists from the western Balkan states. A fellow from Bosnia and Herzegovina and another from Serbia will take part in the Dienstbier Fellowship, which is inspired by the contributions to journalism, foreign policy, and human rights of Jiří Dienstbier, Czechoslovakia’s first post-revolution Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Both programs are joint partnerships between RFE/RL and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic. The Havel Fellowship receives additional support from the Dagmar and Vaclav Havel Foundation VIZE 97.
RFE/RL further extended its outreach efforts this month with the announcement of the Khadija Ismayilova Investigative Journalism Fellowship, created in tribute to the prominent Azeri reporter and RFE/RL contributor who was imprisoned in December, 2014 after publishing reports linking Azerbaijan’s ruling family to corruption.
The Fellowship is a joint initiative of RFE/RL and the Sarajevo-based Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), and aims to ensure that Ismayilova’s voice is heard and that her work continues.
RFE/RL is a private, independent international news organization whose programs — radio, Internet, television, and mobile — reach influential audiences in 23 countries, including Russia, Ukraine, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the republics of Central Asia and the Caucasus. It is funded by the U.S. Congress through the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG)
RFE/RL has headquarters in Prague, Czech Republic, and Washington, D.C.