Saturday, April 19, 2014


Communications / Press Releases

RFE/RL, Czech Republic Announce Vaclav Havel Journalism Fellowship

Former Czech President Vaclav Havel speaks at the inaugural editorial meeting at RFE/RL's new Prague headquarters in 2007Former Czech President Vaclav Havel speaks at the inaugural editorial meeting at RFE/RL's new Prague headquarters in 2007
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Former Czech President Vaclav Havel speaks at the inaugural editorial meeting at RFE/RL's new Prague headquarters in 2007
Former Czech President Vaclav Havel speaks at the inaugural editorial meeting at RFE/RL's new Prague headquarters in 2007
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WASHINGTON -- In a tribute to the life and work of Vaclav Havel, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic and RFE/RL announce the launch of the Vaclav Havel Journalism Fellowship. The inaugural Vaclav Havel fellow, Franak Viachorka, will be in Washington for a week of training beginning on March 19, and will also be recognized at a reception hosted by the Czech Embassy.

Petr Gandalovic, Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the U.S., described the goals of the program by invoking the legacy of his country's former president. "Havel was a playwright, dissident and political leader. He had an uncompromising belief in the power of words and the power of truth to unite people and overcome tyranny.  The Fellowship carries the spirit of his convictions to places struggling against censorship where -- even in 2012 -- people are still denied the fundamental human right of free speech." 

Fellowships will afford independent journalists from countries lacking a free media six months of professional, on-the-job training and development at RFE/RL's Prague headquarters. The program initially targets EU Eastern Partnership countries including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine, and may expand to include fellows from other countries, including Afghanistan and Pakistan. 

"RFE/RL has a special relationship with the Czech people," says RFE/RL president Steven Korn. "This partnership will give promising young journalists an opportunity to work for impact in their own countries without fear." 

During his fellowship, Viachorka, a journalist and documentary filmmaker from Belarus, will train with RFE/RL's Belarus service, Radio Svaboda. His visit to Washington will also include high-level meetings with journalists, diplomats, congressional staff members, and think tanks.

Viachorka has worked as a journalist and editor for several independent publications in Belarus, including as a freelancer for the BelaPAN news agency and the independent Polish satellite TV station, Belsat. He first came to the attention of Radio Svaboda at the age of 13 when he appeared from 2001-2002 on the program "Young Voices."  In 2006 he starred in the award-winning documentary, “A Lesson of Belarusian,” which chronicles his teenage years in Aleksandr Lukashenka's Belarus. Viachorka is also the author of the European travel book "Wanderer's Guide" and director of the Citizen Journalist blog.

For more on the Vaclav Havel Journalism Fellowship, visit our website or contact us at havelfellowship@rferl.org.

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