Past Program

Apr 01 - Apr 04, 2014

Russian Civil Society Symposium: Building Bridges to the Future


Since the 1990s, a more active and open civil society sector has developed across the Russian Federation. While civil society institutions and civic engagement in Russia are not new, the growth of the sector in recent years created hopes that Russian civil society could become the voice for a more effective democratic system, more efficient social services, and a check against corruption and centralized power. At the same time, the increasing interconnectivity between Russian and international civil society institutions created a sense of optimism that an interconnected “Euro-Atlantic civil society” could make positive contributions to difficult geo-political challenges.

Of late, however, these hopes have largely been put on hold. Russian civil society institutions are facing a variety of political and social pressures, and are becoming less connected to international partners. Geo-political relations between Russia and the Euro-Atlantic community have worsened, and international civil society groups and donors have become the object of suspicion as instruments of external interference. At a political level, prior optimism about a “re-set” in Russia-Euro-Atlantic relations has faltered, however, with implications for support for civil society institutions.

There is an urgent need to rebuild bridges and to reestablish a serious dialogue about the role of Russian civil society and relations between diverse civic actors domestically, as well as between Russian organizations and international partners. In cooperation with, and with the generous support of, the Yeltsin Presidential Center and Yeltsin Foundation, this Symposium will address the challenges and opportunities currently facing civil society in Russia as a means to understand the needs and perspective of Russian civil society groups and to consider new approaches to international civil society engagement with Russia.


For a more expansive program description please click here




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Session Photos

View full set on Flickr

Session Podcasts

Posted with permission of FM4.

Session Report


For more information, please contact Program Director Nancy R. Smith (