Cross-border journalism program expands scope

Nabi Abdullaev

Participants of Cross-Border journalism programme discuss projects at the closing seminar, Tbilisi, Georgia, December 2017


Chief mentor Nabi Abdullaev summary of the Cross-Border journalism programme Autumn 2017 season 

Fall season of 2017 was the most work-intense and diverse cross-border journalism program under my watch and, perhaps, beyond. Eight participants representing Russia, Belarus, Lithuania, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan produced five different projects, while usually 10-12 participants work on four. This time, half of the project participants worked in two projects simultaneously.

Also, during this session, the participants made forays into new genres and formats which were not explored during previous sessions. In addition to regular texts with some multimedia, the usual format of projects that participants complete in the cross-border journalism program, this time one of the works was an animated cartoon. Telling stories of girls from Central Asia being deprived of access to school education at home and savoring every bit of it as families migrate to Russia, this explores the most critical element of societal development, the empowering of women. The simple, real life stories for this project were collected and transformed into a toughing visual narrative by Elena Barkovskaya from St. Petersburg, Margarita Loginova from Novosibirsk and Nargis Khambarayeva from Tajikistan.

Elena Barkovskaya and Adela Dulbaviec of Belarus embarked on a road trip through the Curonian Split on a rented car, from Russian side up to Lithuanian, producing a visually rich road story, entertaining and thought-provoking in the meantime.

Lithuania's Daiva Kucinkaite wrote a very powerful story on blood and belonging, tracing three generations of a Lithuanian family whose ancestors were deported from their homes to Siberia under Joseph Stalin. Decades later, these people struggle to grasp their identities. An article by Mikhail Danilovich of Perm, in which he tells a story of the fight between regional authorities in the Urals region against a makeshift monument to the deported Lithianians, erected by a local enthusiast, added a new dimension, afterlife dimension to this project.

Nargis, Olga Likhograi of Kostanai and Nadezhda Kozhevnikova of Blagoveshchensk produced a massive project about how authorities, businesses and common population in Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Russia react to the Chinese economic, cultural and political expansion into these three post-Soviet countries. Spoiler alert: the larger is China's share in the sovereign debt of a country, the friendlier it becomes toward China. (edt. project had the second version published in Tajikistan).

The fifth project, by Olga and Mikhail, looks into how disappointment with the Orthodox Christian Church in Russia and with Islam in Kazakhstan leads individuals and small groups toward ancient traditional creeds predating Christianity and Islam, like Tengrism and neopaganism.

Overall, the program remains robust, there is no shortage of ideas and energy among participants, and the administrative management of the program remains top-notch.

Call for application for a new Cross-Border journalism season will be open from 1st February till 4th March 2018. Please visit Perspektivy web-site and follow the programme on Facebook