This week our guest on the Russian-language podcast is Stefan Melle, director of the German NGO Deutsch-Russischer Austausch (German-Russian Exchange), which is based in Berlin. Stefan is a journalist, an expert on Russia and Eastern Europe, and a leader of Russian-German and European projects to strengthen civil society, media, education, social and environmental issues. He is one of the initiators and founders of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum and the CivilM+ platform.
The issues discussed in the podcast include: how Stefan first became interested in Russia; when he became director of the German-Russian Exchange (Deutsch-Russischer Austausch – DRA); the creation of DRA in 1992 and the initial goals of the organisation; the organisation’s name; the organisation [“Nemtsko-Russky Obmen”] in St. Petersburg; whether the goals of the DRA changed over the years; countries where the DRA operates in addition to Russia; successful DRA projects; creation of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum; inclusion of the DRA into the list of ‘undesirable’ foreign organisations in May 2021; the future of civil society and human rights in Russia.
The podcast is in Russian. You can listen to the podcast in full here:
The music, from Stravinsky’s Elegy for Solo Viola, is performed for us by Karolina Herrera.
Given the length of the podcast, we have also divided it into three parts that you can listen to separately.
Part 1: Early career – Joining German-Russian Exchange:
Part 2: Mission of German-Russian Exchange – Attitudes to civil society in East Germany compared with attitudes in countries of the Former Soviet Union – Designation as an ‘undesirable foreign organisation’ – What Russia loses – Areas for positive collaboration – Importance of the work of the German-Russian Exchange:
Part 3: ‘Undesirable foreign organisations’ and the courts – Designation procedure – European Court of Human Rights – Russian Constitution – the Future – the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum:
Sergei Nikitin writes on Facebook: “A Musician from Pushkin Street, a journalist, an expert on Russia and Eastern Europe, a manager of Russian-German and European projects to strengthen civil society, media, education, social and environmental issues and one of the initiators and founders of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum. All of this is about Stefan Melle, our latest guest on the podcast. Having moved from Pushkin Street to Moscow Street at an early age, Stefan could hardly have imagined that he would be destined to work for the Russian-German exchange. After all, in his youth, Stefan, who lived in East Berlin, saw West Berlin only through the window and believed that he would sooner get to Vladivostok than to the streets of West Berlin. And it turns out that he has yet to visit Vladivostok, but the office of Deutsch-Russischer Austausch is located on one of those streets visible from the window of the flat where Stefan then lived. Stefan sees the future of human rights in terms of a model where people of different countries unite around common interests, adhere to standards which they have agreed to and affixed with signatures and abide by those standards and values even when people may have other interests, when they may be stronger than others and when one can ‘overstep’ the boundaries of what has been agreed. The word ‘overstep’ in Russian has the same root as the word for ‘crime’, and it can be said that neither ‘overstepping’ in this way nor crime should be tolerated. The future lies with a world in which people in all our countries will stand up for their rights. And then, as we can but hope, no one will be able to ‘overstep‘.“
Simon Cosgrove adds: “If you want to listen to this podcast on the podcasts.com website and it doesn’t seem to play, please download by clicking on the three dots to the right. A summary of some of the week’s events in Russia relevant to human rights can be found on our website here.