Voices from the Neighbourhood

“Open Spaces”

As part of the grassroots think tank Polis180, which has a great network across the whole of Europe, we are convinced that an exchange of opinions, strategies and experiences can help a lot to put progressive issues on the political agenda in Europe.

In order to promote this exchange, we want to introduce various actors, activists and organizations that work on progressive issues in our immediate Eastern Neighbourhood. For our first three episodes, we will look at environmental activism, which is currently receiving a lot of attention throughout Europe and the world.

How global are the issues tackled by Fridays for Future? What problems do environmental activists face for example in Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine or Russia? What can we learn from organizations that stand up for climate justice in our Eastern Neighbourhood? We will try to find answers to these questions and as it says in the name of our podcast, we want the Voices from the Neighbourhood to be heard.

About this episode 

Faced with recurrently increasing repression, civil society in Russia turns to smaller meeting spaces. Where can activists still physically come together today? What forms of organizing are possible in the current context? And why is psychological help in such big demand?

In this episode, we talked to Ilya Ershov, the managing director from the “Открытое пространство” (Open space)-initiative in St. Petersburg and Pavel Andreev from the Pimenov-Revolt-Center in Syktyvkar. Only last year, “Open space” opened a new branch in Moscow because so many activists wanted to replicate the successful concept in the capital.

The idea of open meeting spaces (that also fulfill the function of a café, exhibition center, and lecture space) has spread far beyond the two biggest cities in the West. Pavel talks about the challenges and demands he experienced while building such a center in a smaller region with its own ethnic identity, Syktyvkar. Ilya and Pavel share insights with us about the growing need for meeting spaces and how activists are trying to adapt to changing circumstances in contemporary Russia.

As part of the grassroots think tank Polis180, which has a great network across the whole of Europe, we are convinced that an exchange of opinions, strategies and experiences can help a lot to put progressive issues on the political agenda in Europe.


Further information

Open Space in St. Petersburg and Moscow: https://ospace.org/ > Link for donations: https://www.patreon.com/ospace

An article about the acceptance of LGBT-people in St.-Petersburg and safe places including Open Space: https://newint.org/features/2018/08/23/russian-lgbt-activists-battle-teenage-isolation?fbclid=IwAR0DH7jvgvR9VVhNVv8diK8MCCC9kEzK4PnnmpCps28F8vN8-lq-yb9BJEQ

Revolt Center Syktyvkar: https://revoltcenter.com/

Closure of Memorial: https://meduza.io/en/news/2021/12/29/moscow-city-court-dissolves-memorial-human-rights-center

Brief history about Memorial: https://meduza.io/en/feature/2021/12/01/something-needed-to-be-done

OVD Info: https://donate.ovdinfo.org/en#about

GOLOS: https://www.golosinfo.org/en

Foreign Agents Law: https://www.rferl.org/a/foreign-agent-russia-law/31663617.html

 

If you want to know more about Polis180 and the program group Perspektive Ost, feel free to follow us on Twitter or visit our Website

Credits: Julia Baumann, Lucian Bumeder, Hendrik Schnittker

Guests: Ilya Ershov (Open Space) & Pavel Andreev (Revolt Center)

© 2015-2018 Polis180 e.V. | Grassroots-Thinktank für Außen- und Europapolitik

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