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Monday 27 March

Главная News Congratulations, volunteer of the Center
Congratulations, volunteer of the Center



A volunteer of the Center for Interethnic Cooperation made the third place on the international competition “Xenophobia and racism in the reporting of migration issues”. The seminar of the same name for journalists took place in Lviv from 23rd to 24th of October.


The fund “AWO Heimatgarten” was founded ten years ago to help migrants to return from Germany to their home countries of the Balkan Peninsula after the end of the hostilities. The fund also helps them with their rehabilitation. AWO is an acronym; literally translated it means “the well-being of workers”. “Heimatgarten” is “Home Garden” or “Garden in the homeland”. This name was invented when Balkan refugees returned to their home country. Most of all, according to their words, they missed their home garden.

Little by little “AWO Heimatgarten” extended its activities in Europe and Asia and also in the countries of the CIS. In Ukraine the fund is active operating since the 1st of December 2007 with the project “Saturn”. This pilot project is partly financed by the European Union. It is already functioning two years and at the end of November this year the organizers will sum up the results.










Our seminar “Xenophobia and racism in the reporting of migration issues” took place within the framework of the second project of the fund in the countries of the CIS. It is called “Bridges of Neighborhood”. Many partner organizations were involved, among others the Russian fund “Education for Society”. The EU gives about 70% of the funding. The total budget of the project, which will operate two and a half years until the end of August 2011, reaches 1.400.000 Euros.

The project is generally designed for Russia. The Ukraine is one of the partner countries along with Moldova, Armenia, Georgia and Kazakhstan.

The aim of “Bridges of Neighborhood” is to help migrants who returned from Germany and other countries to different regions of the CIS. “These are totally diverse people of different age, level of education and social status” says Olga Cherkez, the curator of the project in Ukraine. “Working in the previous project of “Saturn”, I understood above all that they don’t return because there are our excellent projects, but because these people have deep personal problems in the family. By no means we think that our project is so unique that while full satisfied with their life it can convince them to return home. If it was not so, it may be that they would no longer think about their return, or they wouldn’t take the risk to return without outside support at all.”

With the help of this project they return; people of working age who understand that they cannot rely on the help of the authorities in Russia. Therefore, they are interested in starting work in the first place. “We offer them assistance with retraining, help to recover or temporarily to remove housing. And most important for us is that the people can stand on their own feet. If we see that the chances of one are small, we by all forces try to dissuade him from returning”, Olga Cherkez continues.

The project “Bridges of Neighborhood” is designed for training seminars and the work with journalists who write about problems of migration and social workers in the field of migration. “We prefer to work with young journalists who are just building their world-view, their journalistic culture and ethic. And we want to call for tolerance in the first place. We want to establish a network of journalists writing about problems of migration so that in this mutual communication they learn to report about problems of migration impartially, avoiding nationalistic, xenophobic and racist statements for their part”.

Olga Cherkez explains that there are two dangers in the social and the journalistic work. First, people come to work with migrants and, encountering difficulties in the intercultural communication, stereotypes emerge which disturb effective work. Second, the Burnout syndrome emerges when they take the pain of the migrants so deep to heart that after some time they become disabled and can’t execute this work any more.

In addition, the fund tries to establish contacts with volunteers who are ready to work selflessly. “We want that this pilot project induces other organizations to similar activities, to write similar grants. We very much want that we get competitors so that we can also improve”, she summarizes.








In Lviv we were received exceptionally friendly, and warnings like “In western Ukraine everyone hates the Russians” were not confirmed. True, some lecturers were hardly speaking Russian or their presentations were in Ukrainian, but soon all Russians more or less understood the language. On the first day of the seminar, 23rd of October, in the Ukrainian Catholic University arrived many journalists from Lviv. But Volker Tegeler, director of the fund “AWO Heimatgarten” could not come.

On the seminar it was a lot talked about stereotypes. Thus, according to Boris Potyatinnik, professor of theory and practice of journalism at the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv (al the teachers were from that university), a journalist can never get rid of stereotypes because he has to understandably describe the world in images for his audience. A discussion started, in which we argued if the reader prefers to consult publications which destroys his stereotypes. Some seminar participants said that namely such material is most interesting. But yet the familiar images and ideas do not need to break, but slowly withdraw from the negative, said the correspondent from ITAR-TASS in Ukraine.

However, many journalists inconsiderately publicize and promote xenophobia, therefore, there has to be a barrier against such publications in the editorial offices. Journalists should be aware of the democratic, legal and ethic values of their profession, experts accentuate.

A wave of indignation within the Russian side caused the provoking speech of Andrei Dakhna, associate professor of the history of philosophy. He thinks that in 2004 the xenophobic attitude of Russians towards Ukrainians strongly deteriorated and namely the media furthered this: “The point is that Putin took the defeat in Ukrainian affairs as personal offence”. Mr. Dakhna believes that some statements of Zhirinovskiy and Luzhkov are intolerable, that the Russian mass-media under the control of the authoritarian authorities consider the independence of the Ukraine a misunderstanding and show signs of imperial greatness. In some ways he is indeed right.

Every year a relatively large number of Ukrainians goes to Europe and Russia to work there, so they become working migrants. Nadezhda Gapon, professor of psychology at the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv, told about psychological problems they encounter when they return to their home country. The people leave for money but then they also have to pay for their own rehabilitation.

At the same time the Ukrainians who go to earn in Russia have it by far easier than those who go to Europe, owing to the similar moral and cultural climate.

So, Igor Gnat, director of the Regional Center of Social Adaptation (Lviv), told frightening stories related to xenophobia of the civilized Europe against Ukrainians.


The journalistic competition was invented by Maria Rybakova, representative of the fund in Russia and editor of the section international economics and politics of the newspaper “RBC daily”. Altogether about 30 applications participated in the competition, 20 of them were invited for the seminar: “It was planned so initially, because there are not many journalists who deal with migration issues. But we were delighted with the material we got”, said Maria Rybakova.

It turned out to be very difficult to put the information on the competition on internet-portals for free, although Maria tried to explain that the fund does not receive any income from this. On the contrary, the fund incured all expenses. Therefore the information could only be placed on three sites in Russia (and one distorted it) and on four sites in Ukraine.

The competition entries were very different: poverty issues, working migration and migration for personal reasons. The journalists touched many aspects of migration: psychological, juridical and economical. Maria confesses: “I know how difficult it is to communicate with migrants and to take an interview with them. I myself did that more than once. And with old people and veterans. You communicate and have the most tears. When you listen, this is such an enormous burden on the psyche of a journalist that not everyone has the courage to do so. Because it is much easier to write about fashion, cosmetics, but that is not real journalism. Journalists who deal with that usually get very little laurels. I am glad that we succeeded to encourage and motivate them to further professional feats.”

I dispatched for the competition articles that were published on the site of the Center for Interethnic Cooperation (“Believe it, don’t be afraid, come”, “Tolerance among youths – why and how”, “Seliger training on tolerance”). I received 500 Euros for the third place, Ekaterina Pospelova from Nizhniy Novgorod 1000 Euros for the second, and Anne Faisova from Moscow for the first place received a two-week trip to Germany for an internship in the fund AWO “Heimatgarten”.

At the same time, a brochure will be published until January with all articles in the competition in two languages. Maria Rybakova said: “It can be shown to other journalists to further our common cause to attract more journalists who can take part in our seminar and competition next year, so that the network can multiply and grow and we get to other regions because in Russia no city but Moscow and Nizhniy Novgorod showed any activity.”

According to the words of the organizers of the seminar, probably in 2010 will be a similar seminar, only education and not get-not-know, and a photo exhibition on the topic of migration. It may also be held a similar journalistic competition.

I think on this seminar took place an important meeting of journalists of different countries and cities who are interested in the same social topic. It is becoming, unfortunately, even more actual due to the fact that in Russia and Ukraine the xenophobic attitude in the society becomes more and more, and the amount of conflicts on ethnic grounds is increasing. Therefore, it is important, as the mass media are a mirror of the society, to show the situation: truthfully, objective and tolerant – or vice versa.

Polina Myakinchenko