Discussions about civil society in Europe

Civil society in the EU and Russia during COVID-19

In Autumn 2020, the GRE participated in organizing online discussions about civil society and initiatives in the EU and Russia during the pandemic. The discussions were organized in cooperation with the Expert Group on Civil Society Research of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum and with Friedrich Ebert Foundation. The initiators and moderators of the discussions were the co-coordinators of the Expert Group of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum Elena Belokurova (German-Russian Exchange, Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, St. Petersburg) and Andrey Demidov (Central European University, Budapest). In the framework of the discussions, the situation of the civil society organizations during the pandemic were presented by the local scholars in such countries as Austria, Czechia, Italy, Germany, Greece, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden.  

Now you can watch the recordings of meetings in Russian and English:

The first online discussion took place on October 20, 2020: “Civil society organizations in the online world: obstacles to operations or advantages of new formats?”. Discussing such points as new forms and opportunities for communication and the online presence of civil society organizations in Europe.

Speakers: members of the Expert Group of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum

– Pavel Havlichek (Association for International Affairs, Czechia)

– Yulia Skokova (Higher School of Economics, Russia)

– Andrei Dobre (Bucharest University, Romania)

In the beginning of November, we talked about how the pandemic has affected the funding of civil society organizations and what new methods and strategies are now in fundraising during the pandemic in Europe and Russia in online discussion “Civil Society Support and Fundraising in times of the Pandemic in Europe and Russia”.

Speakers: members of the Expert Group of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum

– Filip Pazderski (Institute for Public Affairs, Poland)

– Eugenia Vathakou (Merimna, Greece)

– Johan Vamstad (Ersta Sköndal Bräcke University College, Sweden)

– Vjacheslav Bakhmin (Sakharov Centre, Russia)

The next meeting on December 1st, 2020 was dedicated to volunteering. Particular attention was paid to the role of the volunteer during the first and second waves of the pandemic. The experts talked about how the work of volunteers was organized and who became the main organizer of volunteer assistance: the state, NGOs, business, civil initiatives, new volunteer structures or neighborhood ties.


– Ruth Simsa (Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria)

– Alzbeta Gregorova (Slovakia)

– Yulia Skokova (Higher School of Economics, Russia)

The series of meetings ended with an online discussion “International Cooperation of Civil Society Actors in Europe during the Pandemic”.

Participants discussed how international partnerships and projects have changed during the period of closed borders.


– Ulla Pape (Free University Berlin, Germany)

– Simone Polderini (University of Perugia, Italy)

– Anna Sevortian (EU-Russia Civil Society Forum)

– Larisa Deriglazova (Tomsk State University, Russia)

The discussion series was found as interesting by the audience, so its continuation is under discussion.