Video of the debate: The sector under pressure - on the state of civil society in the European Union and Russia

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Democracy and civil society

Video of the debate: The sector under pressure - on the state of civil society in the European Union and Russia

The discussion was hold in English  

Certain solutions limiting the freedom of civil society organizations operation, which could have been observed for some time in Russia, gradually began to gain popularity in other parts of Europe. It was favored by the spread of a specific political, economic and social climate. The resulting challenges make it difficult for civic organizations to operate on a daily basis and develop further. Such effects are caused by legal changes and limiting political freedoms ("shrinking civic space "), intensification of populist tendencies in public life, or decreasing the membership scale and changing the way citizens engage in the organization's activities. The drying out of various sources of funding, negative effects of the growing importance of new technologies and number of other organizational problems are equally important.

Many of these trends have universal character. Their diverse manifestations can be observed in various parts of Europe. But were they dealt with in countries that at least started to struggle first? That is why it is worth to get interested in the functioning of the civil society in Russia today. Can civil organizations in other parts of Europe learn from its situation? And can certain solutions functioning inside the EU prove useful for organizations operating beyond European eastern borders?
Such discussion was taken by experts from the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Russia and Hungary, who are the authors of the chapters of the State of Civil Society report covering respective countries (see Together they look at, among others, how civil society organizations respond to changes, what strategies they adopt, and what practical solutions they have developed in different parts of Europe. What developments can be expected in the future and can something be done to prevent more negative scenarios happen?

Following experts took part in the discussion:

•    Elena Belokurova (German-Russian Exchange, St. Petersburg), 
•    Pavel Havlicek (Association for International Affairs. AMO, Prague), 
•    Ulla Pape (Freie Universität Berlin), 
•    Filip Pazderski (Instytut Spraw Publicznych, Warszawa), 

Moderation: Andrey Demidov (Central European University, Budapest).

The debate takes place as part of the study visit of the expert group on civil society research operating within the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum ( and accompanies the publication of the next edition of the report on the State of Civil Society (see

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