Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe

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Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe

2000-2001 Activities

 The Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe (IDEE) is a not-for-profit organization  dedicated to the promotion of democracy in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Begun in 1986, IDEE provided critical assistance to the democratic movements in Eastern Europe that brought about an end to communist rule. Since 1989, IDEE has administered more than $12 million in programs to help the region's democratic and civic activists rebuild a free press, a democratic political system, and a plural and open society. Through these programs, IDEE has provided material support, training, civic education, and other assistance to more than 3,000 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), opposition movements, and independent media outlets in twenty-two countries.

 IDEE’s current activities address the persistent and long-term challenges facing countries in the region to making a successful transition from communism to democracy. Its programs focus especially on areas of conflict, such as the Balkans and the Caucasus, and on assisting civic and democratic activists in countries with entrenched post-communist dictatorships. IDEE’s approach is regional in scope and its activities rely on a broad network of NGOs called the Centers for Pluralism. Through this network, IDEE promotes common initiatives and cross-border cooperation as a means of strengthening civil society and promoting democracy generally in the postcommunist region.

Overview: Political Trends

 The last two years have stymied experts who are looking for any clear trend towards or away from democracy in the region. The October 2000 overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic by a broad civic and political movement was a clear and significant advance for democracy and stability in Europe. His subsequent arrest and extradition for war crimes and crimes against humanity to the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in the Hague was the final signal that the brutal decade of war unleashed by Milosevic—resulting in hundreds of thousands killed, millions of people displaced, and immense social suffering—had come to an end. Now, in the face of numerous crises and even outbreaks of significant ethnic violence, the worst conflicts in the Balkans have been brought to an end and political dialogue, assisted by international peacekeeping forces and active diplomacy, has replaced force as the primary method for dealing with new conflicts in southern Serbia, Macedonia, and Montenegro. Yet, these democratic advances are hardly secure. Ethnic relations remain raw. Continued economic distress, weak democratic institutions, and the powerful aftereffects of a decade-long propaganda campaign of hate make the countries of former Yugoslavia, especially Serbia, susceptible to anti-democratic and extreme nationalist political forces.

 Indeed, in a number of countries of Central and Eastern Europe in the last year, former communist and extreme nationalist parties have regained power through elections. In late 2000, Romania’s democratic alliance collapsed and communo-nationalist parties returned to power. Ion Iliescu, who built his career in the early 1990s on violence and ethnic hatred, was elected president, while his only serious opponent was an even more extreme nationalist, Vadim Tudor. In 2001, an unreconstructed pro-Soviet communist party won elections in Moldova. Meanwhile, postcommunist parties were returned to power in Poland and Lithuania, countries considered to have more successful transitions. Even in Estonia, the region’s most successful country politically, socially, and economically, the former Soviet communist party chief reemerged to be elected president. These victories of parties and individuals representing the old regime highlight the lack of political alternatives and overall instability of the region, generally deterring and delaying reforms and holding back efforts towards integration with Europe.  Since 1989, no pro-democratic, pro-reform political party or coalition has won consecutive elections.

 The trends against democracy are worse in the former Soviet Union. Aside from the Baltic States, all post-Soviet countries are currently ruled by heavy-handed former officials of the old communist nomenklatura. The consequences are evident: high levels of poverty and corruption, lack of reforms, severe repression, a crackdown on any democratic institutions or initiatives, and widening international isolation. In the last year,  fraudulent elections were held in Azerbaijan and Belarus denying victory to pro-democratic political coalitions and candidates.

 The most severe threat to democracy in the region is the Russian government’s unrelenting war against Chechnya. Russia, while claiming to be acting against “terrorists,” has been engaged in a genocidal assault on Chechnya’s civilian population, killing tens of thousands, destroying cities and villages, eradicating Chechens’ cultural heritage, and driving nearly one million people from their homes. Russia’s actions are destabilizing neighboring republics and countries in southern and northern Caucasus and, worse, setting a precedent for carrying out ethnic slaughter against any group seeking self-determination among the Russian Federation’s dozens of nationalities. Unfortunately, there has been little international pressure on Russia to end its campaign. Even that pressure has all but disappeared as an apparent exchange for Russia’s support of the U.S.-led war on terrorism.

IDEE Programs and Activities: 2000–2001

 IDEE and its predecessor, the Committee in Support of Solidarity, were among the first organizations to provide direct support for democratic movements in communist Eastern Europe. From its inception, IDEE’s aim was to support pluralist views and independent initiatives being organized in communist countries and to foster civic and political movements seeking democratic change. Since the revolutions of 1989, IDEE has promoted the development of civil society and the basic institutions of democracy, while also continuing to address the persistent problems contributing to the region’s general lack of democratic development. It has especially focused on key crisis areas where extreme nationalism replaced communism as the ideology of power as well as on countries where democracy has been derailed or where new repressive systems have replaced a decades-long communist dictatorship.

 In 2000–2001, IDEE programs

 • assisted 500 organizations and independent media outlets  with material and technical support, training, civic education, technical assistance, networking, and other help to carry out a wide range of civic and pro-democratic activities in twenty countries;

 • organized or supported 200 training workshops in twelve countries reaching nearly 5,000 activists;

 • facilitated cross-border cooperation and initiatives in more than twenty countries and assisted cross-border networking of more than 500 organizations.

 In 2000–2001, IDEE’s core program, the Centers for Pluralism, expanded to include new organizations, countries, and regions in its information, training, and networking activities. There are now twenty Centers for Pluralism and fifty-four partner organizations participating in CfP-related programs in twenty-two countries, while one thousand NGOs and Western donors and organizations active in the region are listed in various language editions of the Centers for Pluralism Newsletter.

 The Centers for Pluralism program is the foundation for IDEE’s other programs, serving both as a model and a resource. One, Civic Bridges, carried out significant NGO development, training, exchange, and education initiatives in Kosova, Montenegro, and Serbia totaling $2 million in 2000–2001. In Serbia, IDEE provided support for the main civic coalition for the elections, Izlaz 2000, as well as a large number of its 200 constituent organizations. This civic movement was widely credited with playing a major role in the defeat of Milosevic at the polls and in organizing civic protests to defend the opposition’s victory afterward. In Kosova and Montenegro, IDEE organized small grant competitions that assisted  nearly one hundred new NGOs; in Kosova, IDEE also supported training, internship, and exchange programs involving NGO counterparts in Central and Eastern Europe as well as training for the election monitoring network of the Kosova Action for Civic Initiatives, which helped ensure the legitimacy of the municipal elections.

 In the Caucasus, IDEE organized the second year of its Women’s Networking in the Caucasus program, working with partners to provide training, civic education, and small grants to women’s and women-led NGOs. A major NGO Assembly was held in July 2001 in Batumi, Georgia involving more than 75 women and men NGO leaders from all three countries. A similar program is being launched in 2001-2002 in Central Asia. In addition, IDEE continued its Azerbaijan Democracy Project, which provides targeted training and support for civic organizations.

 In this period, IDEE has worked extensively on assisting its Chechen Center for Pluralism, Lam, and its wide range of humanitarian, informational, and peace-promotion activities in the face of nearly insurmountable obstacles. Finally, IDEE has maintained an ongoing Cuba Democratization Project, which since 1995 has organized exchanges and published pamphlets with the aim of providing Cuban democracy activists with concrete knowledge of Eastern Europe’s opposition movements and the region’s transition from communism.  Below is a fuller description of activities in the 2000–2001 period.

Azerbaijan Democracy Project

In 1998, IDEE initiated a project to support the growing pro-democracy movement in Azerbaijan. For three years, IDEE has provided basic support as well as assistance for communications and technology training, civic education, and seminars on coalition building and election monitoring. In 2000–2001, IDEE supported workshops held on the fundamentals of democracy and electoral procedures for several hundred participants; provided communications equipment and other infrastructure equipment to NGOs throughout Azerbaijan; organized a series of internships in Poland; supported over 20 separate publications covering principles of democracy as well as electoral, legal, and political issues and events; sponsored exchanges of ten Central and Eastern European experts to provide training and assistance; and organized over twenty-five international monitors for the November 2000 elections.

 Working Together—Networking Women in Caucasus was begun in the fall of 1999 with the aim of helping women NGO leaders in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia gain greater leadership skills and promote their countries’ democratic development through building strong regional ties. In its first full year, the program successfully brought together twenty-four highly-qualified women leaders—eight from each country— from women’s, civic, ethnic minority or issue-based NGOs for three intensive in-country workshops on leadership, advocacy, and networking skills. Activities also included a twelve-day U.S. study-tour for six participants, a ten-day East-East internship program in Warsaw for six participants, preparation of a handbook for women’s NGOs, and a small-grants competition open to all participants. In the program’s second year, IDEE organized a train-the-trainer program for nine participants, three from each country. These trainers then carried out a series of workshops on NGO development, democracy, and civic education in the spring of 2001. An NGO assembly was organized in Batumi, Georgia in July 2001 that brought together over 75 women and men NGO leaders and activists. For both years, IDEE provided small grants to 25 women-led or women’s’ issue NGOs averaging less than $1,000. Among the significant objectives of the program is the integration of men trainers and NGO leaders and activists into the activities with the aim of breaking through male domination of the sector and establishing women NGO leaders on an equal footing with their male counterparts.  IDEE will continue the program for 2001–2002 and also initiate a similar first-year program for women NGO leaders in Central Asia.

Centers for Pluralism Program

 The Centers for Pluralism program was begun in 1992 as a means of aiding the development of non-governmental organizations and civic initiatives throughout Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Beginning with seven Centers in 1992–93, the program has expanded to twenty-two Centers for Pluralism spanning sixteen countries (see List of Centers for Pluralism). Each organization selected as a Center for Pluralism organizes a wide range of civic, educational, and political activities and serves as a hub for a pro-democratic network of individuals and organizations within their countries as well as a coordinator of cross-border initiatives and cooperation. In 2000 and 2001, IDEE provided twenty subgrant awards of $5,000 to $10,000 to Centers for Pluralism. These awards offer both basic and program assistance and support cross-border initiatives among NGOs in the CfP Network. Additionally, in 2000–2001, IDEE awarded nearly fifty small grants of no more than $2,500 to NGOs as part of an effort to expand the reach and effectiveness of the Centers for Pluralism program. Small grants went to support specific programs, training, and cross-border communication and exchanges (see Lists of CfP Grant Awards for 2000–2001).

 Semi-annually, IDEE organizes cross-border meetings of the Centers, alternating between regional meetings and full meetings of all the Centers. In the fall of 2000, IDEE organized regional meetings in Budapest for southeastern Europe, in Vilnius for northeastern Europe, and in Tbilisi for the Caucasus and Central Asia. Each focused on specific regional issues and possible areas of cooperation. Full meetings of the Centers for Pluralism, involving all Centers and a number of other partner organizations, were organized in Tbilisi, Georgia in April 2000 and Jedwisin, Poland in April 2001.  In Tbilisi, there were over50 NGO leaders from 20 countries addressing problems of conflict, conflict resolution, and cross-border cooperation. In Jedwisin, more than 75 leading civic activists from 25 countries attended, the largest CfP meeting held thus far. The meeting addressed issues of cooperation across borders in areas of civic education, conflict resolution, human rights, independent media, among others. The meeting also highlighted the humanitarian and human rights crisis in Chechnya and how NGOs might help. Significant initiatives were undertaken as a result of these meetings, including a regional appeal to donors for more stable funding of civic development, solidarity campaigns for democratic activists in Cuba, cooperation in the field of civic education, a number of Serbian-Belarusan exchanges to assist Belarusan activists as they faced an election against the dictator Lukashenka, and organization of international election monitoring efforts, and others.

 The Centers for Pluralism Newsletter increased its distribution to over 5,000 individuals and groups in its five language editions: English, Russian, Azeri, Belarusan, and Ukrainian. The English-language edition has a distribution to 2,000 people in 65 countries. Each edition publishes information on the activities of NGOs in the region, how to contact them, needs of NGOs, and articles providing concrete advice for NGOs on management, fundraising, increasing membership, organizing programs and activities, civic education, and other issues. In 2000–2001, five issues of the Russian-language, four of the English- and Azeri-language, and three of the Ukrainian-language editions were published. The English-language edition was the original version and is the model for other editions, however each language edition has original articles and different listings of NGOs.  Among the articles published included reports on non-partisan election activities and international monitoring by Centers for Pluralism in Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kosova, and Serbia; reports on civic activities in Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, and Serbia, and articles on civic education, among others. The Newsletter is used widely as a base for making cross-border contacts among NGOs in the region. Western donors and  organizations working in the region frequently reported relying on the Centers for Pluralism Newsletter to make funding and program decisions.

 IDEE also organized a number of internship and exchange programs as a means for NGO activists from Centers for Pluralism and partner organizations to learn more about the experiences of counterparts in other countries, offer their own experiences to counterparts, and develop cooperative programs across borders. IDEE’s partner organization in Poland, IDEE–Warsaw, hosted over 150 Belarusan, Central Asian, Chechen, Crimean Tatar, Mongolian, Russian, and Ukrainian NGO activists and democratic leaders, including programs in civic education, management, health, free market economics, local democracy, independent media, and the environment. Among those hosted were two six-person delegations from Kosova as part of IDEE’s Civic Bridges program as well as a number of activists from the Caucasus as part of the Women’s Networking program. As well, as part of the internship and cross-border program, Estonians traveled to Lithuania and Belarus, Ukrainians to Belarus, Belarusans to Ukraine, Crimean Tatars to the Caucasus, Georgians to Azerbaijan and the Czech Republic, and international monitoring groups were organized for elections in Georgia and Azerbaijan.


 In the fall of 1999, IDEE responded to the second Russian war on Chechnya by mobilizing support from Centers for Pluralism in neighboring countries and organizing immediate winter assistance to refugees in Ingushetia and Georgia as well as displaced persons inside Chechnya at a time when international humanitarian assistance organizations had suspended their programs due to danger.

 Since that time, IDEE has organized a number of efforts to address the profound humanitarian, political, and social crisis caused by the ongoing Russian assault. In early 2000, it helped launch and housed the American Committee on Chechnya, the first effort to gather prominent Americans behind the effort to strengthen U.S. response to the genocide.

 IDEE has supported its Chechen Center for Pluralism, Lam, with material, technical, political, moral, and humanitarian assistance. It has also supported the efforts of Lam, one of Chechnya’s most significant NGOs, to unite the Chechen community around a peaceful solution to the crisis. IDEE has also worked with Lam to support the distribution of information on the situation in Chechnya to Western NGOs and leaders,  translating and publishing Dispatches from Chechnya. The Dispatches provide information on the overall devastation caused by the two wars and specific information on human rights abuses and crimes against humanity. At the nomination of IDEE, the World Movement for Democracy recognized Lam for its significant range of work in the face of nearly insurmountable obstacles.

 IDEE has also assisted Chechen representatives and leaders in providing information to Western officials. Last year, IDEE assisted the foreign minister of President Aslan Maskhadov on several trips to the U.S. In July 2000, it organized the trip of Dr. Kuri Idrisov, a psychologist who is providing psychological help to children and youth affected by the war through treatment centers and in December 2000, it organized the trip of two leaders of Lam, Lecha Ilyasov and Edilbek Khasmagomadov, who provided first-hand accounts to more than twenty NGOs working on the issue of Chechnya about the continuing worsening of conditions in Chechnya. They also met with a wide number of government officials, Senators, and senior Congressional staff to press both Chechnya’s urgent needs for humanitarian assistance and its more long-term needs for democracy assistance after the conclusion of the war. IDEE also assisted Dr. Hasan Bayiev, a surgeon forced to leave Chechnya after his heroic efforts to treat both Chechen and Russian victims of the war, in lobbying the Chechen cause in the United States. He was recently awarded Human Rights Watch's annual award..

 IDEE’s web page, “Chechnya in Crisis” is among the most extensive resources available on the second war in Chechnya, including not only the Dispatches and a wide range of articles and links, but also unique photographs and a series of drawings by children on the war that were painted as part of a therapeutic program directed by Dr. Kiri Idrisov. In March 2000, IDEE co-sponsored with the Czech Embassy the first American showing of the film “Dark Side of the World,” produced by Jaromir Stetina in collaboration with noted reporter Andrei Babitsky. IDEE has distributed the film throughout the United States.

 In January 2001, IDEE initiated a Chechnya Working Group with the Coalition for International Justice, which includes the Physicians for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, the International League for Human Rights, the International Rescue Committee, the US Committee on Refugees, and the American Committee for Peace in Chechnya, among several others. This group has worked to jointly address the issue of Chechnya before government officials, Congress, and international institutions, including the U.N. Commission on Human Rights.

Civic Bridges/Yugoslavia

 Civic Bridges  (formerly Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges) is a program aimed at helping civic and democratic development in all three parts of current Yugoslavia—Kosova, Montenegro, and Serbia. Previously, the program was coordinated through one partner organization in Belgrade, Civic Initiatives, which successfully carried out a number of cross-border programs within Yugoslavia involving NGOs from Kosova, Montenegro, and Serbia in joint activities even at a time of heightening tensions in 1998–99. As a result of the Milosevic-directed war against Kosova in spring 1999, the program was divided into three parts in order to more effectively support civic development in all parts of Yugoslavia. Today, IDEE works with three partner organizations, the Kosova Action for Civic Initiatives (KACI) in Pristina, the Center for Democracy and Human Rights (CEDEM) in Podgorica, and Civic Initiatives in Belgrade, each of which are organizing a wide range of civic and NGO development activities, including small grants competitions, NGO training workshops, civic education, internship and exchange programs with counterpart NGOs in Central and Eastern Europe. Nearly $2 million in funding was provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development and the National Endowment for Democracy for this program in 2000–2001.

 In Kosova, KACI organized two small grant competitions in early 2000 and early 2001 that provided a total of 60 awards to newly emerging NGOs whose activities went largely ignored by the United Nations Mission in Kosovo and by the major aid organizations and other international institutions working there . Each award averaged $1,000, geared towards providing basic support, equipment, and targeted program assistance in order to help NGOs gain a foothold in post-war Kosova. A measure of the program’s success is that most of these NGOs continue to exist and with this support they were able to gain greater experience and obtain additional funding for their work. Several of the awards were directed towards conflict resolution and reconciliation efforts, especially among students, as well as basic civic education in principles of human and minority rights.

 In addition, Civic Bridges activities included five training workshops involving trainers from Croatia, Poland, and Slovakia, one in NGO management, two in civic education, and two in civic involvement in elections. In the two election workshops, Croatian and Slovak trainers experienced in civic, non-partisan monitoring efforts in their own countries—efforts critical to the success of democratic coalitions in recent elections— trained over 100 members of a national monitoring network organized by KACI as part of a mandate of the OSCE. The network of KACI and that of another OSCE-mandated organization, the Council for the Defense of Human Rights, monitored all polling places in Kosova for municipal elections held in October 2000 and it  accurately reported informal results within a day of the vote, helping to ensure the legitimacy of Kosova’s first free elections.

 The Civic Bridges–Kosova program also included three exchanges for 15 civic and media leaders, one to Hungary to study the development of NGOs and the democratic transition, one of municipal leaders to study local democracy in Poland, and one of economists to study local privatization and also how think tanks and other non-governmental initiatives effect the development of free markets. A final internship helped to provide civic activists with an understanding of the recent transition in Croatia and the role of NGOs in the democratic elections of early 2000.

 In Montenegro, CEDEM organized a similar two-part small grant competition, which assisted more than 50 NGOs with grants averaging $1,000. Similarly to Kosova, small, independent, and new NGOs were being ignored by the Western donor community in favor of larger NGOs that often are already helped by their close relationship to the government. The small grants competition offered targeted, small assistance in order to establish basic infrastructure, allow staff development, and organize programs. In addition, CEDEM and the Center for the Development of NGOs (CRNVO) organized seven NGO training workshops in cooperation with Tim TRI, the training arm of Civic Initiatives in Belgrade, as well as two Democracy Seminars that addressed key issues facing Montenegro in its transition to democracy.

 The largest Civic Bridges effort was in Serbia. IDEE provided significant support to Civic Initiatives for a broad training, civic education, NGO development, small grant, and minority program. Forty-five small grants were awarded throughout Serbia to key local NGOs involved in pro-democracy work. Tim TRI, the training arm of Civic Initiatives, carried out a total of more than 100 workshops in 2000 and 2001, reaching nearly 2,500 NGO activists with basic management training as well as specialized training in such areas as program development, fundraising, communications, leadership development, and recruitment. Tim TRI also carried out a second train-the-trainer program with separate funding, which supplemented its training team of eight permanent trainers with twelve new ones. In this two-year period, Civic Initiatives organized more than 80 Democracy Seminars targeted at activists of the Civic Parliament movement as well as key NGO leaders in twelve local areas, involving nearly 1,000 participants. Civic Initiatives also organized around twenty general Town Hall meetings and 80 Local Candidate Forums during the election period, the first time in most localities where citizens could hear all the candidates articulate their positions in one setting.

 Most importantly, IDEE provided support for the main civic coalition for the elections, Izlaz 2000, as well as a large number of its 200 constituent organizations. Support went to advertisements, promotional materials, and basic flyers educating citizens about the importance of voting in the elections as well as about their rights and informing them of ways to ensure that their free ballot was cast and counted accurately. Izlaz 2000's most important effort was targeted at the minority community, previously the least likely to participate in elections, and at the student and youth vote. All educational materials were translated into local minority languages and a separate coalition of minority NGOs banded together with Izlaz 2000 to encourage participation in elections. Izlaz 2000 and its constituent organizations were widely credited with playing a major role in the defeat of Milosevic at the polls and in organizing civic protests to defend the opposition’s victory afterward.

 In addition, the Serbia program included direct support for the Citizens’ Parliament movement, the Students Union of Serbia, the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights, as well as for general pro-democracy initiatives, including a large civic mobilization effort called “Back to Europe” aimed at educating Serbian society about the sweeping changes needed in politics, the economy, law, and social consciousness in order for Serbia to reenter Europe (the main slogan of the campaign is “Serbia needs to clean house to return to Europe”). This effort helped create the broader Izlaz 2000 initiative later in 2000.

 Following the October elections, IDEE organized an intensive, one-week study tour for six NGO leaders from Serbia, joined by Zarko Korac, a deputy prime minister of Serbia whose responsibility includes relations with NGOs. Organized with a separate grant from the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the trip included leaders of the Belgrade-based Civic Initiatives, the Center for Democracy and Free Elections, the Students Union of Serbia, and the Women’s Network, along with the leader of Urban In from Novi Pazar in Sandzak. One aim of the trip was to offer Serbian civic leaders with the opportunity to brief American counterparts and officials on the NGO movement, its significance in the democratization of Serbia, and the need for continued focus on non-governmental and non-political party assistance. A second aim was to give the leaders an opportunity to meet with counterparts and learn about different models and aspects of civic activity in the U.S. During the course of the tour, the civic leaders met with over 30 representatives of counterpart organizations as well as heads of donor organizations and officials at USAID, the State Department, the National Security Council, and Congress.

Cuba Democratization Project

 In 1995, IDEE began a project to provide Cuban dissidents with information and analysis about the experiences of Eastern European countries under communism and their initial transition from communism through a two-phased exchange and publications project. IDEE organized trips for 20 Central and Eastern European democracy activists to meet dissidents, including leaders of incipient opposition organizations, to share their experiences organizing opposition under communism. IDEE has also published two series of pamphlets, eighteen under the name“Los Caminos,” and more recently in 2000–20001, thirteen pamphlets and three civil society newsletters under the name “Democracia.” In each series, IDEE publishes existing materials and human rights documents as well as original articles by Eastern Europeans geared towards the Cuban audience covering the full range of topics of opposition and transition. Among the pamphlets published in the last year include a reprint of Jakub Karpinski’s “ABCs of Democracy,” which has been translated and published in over ten languages, and “The Common Elements of Opposition” by IDEE co-directors Eric Chenoweth and Irena Lasota, IDEE.

 In the last two years, the Centers for Pluralism have organized a solidarity network through an organization in Miami dedicated to helping the opposition in Cuba, called Directorio Revolucionario Democratico Cubano (5). Letter and telephone campaigns have helped improve conditions for political prisoners and on rare occasions have been credited with their release. Centers have also organized campaigns to lobby their governments and elected officials to raise human rights violations with Cuban officials, raise general awareness of the conditions in Cuba, and publicize specific abuses of human rights.

Network of Independent Journalists

 The Network of Independent Journalists (NIJ) was begun in 1994. A complementary initiative to the Centers for Pluralism, the aim of the NIJ has been to foster greater cross-border reporting, especially by independent newspapers, of events and issues affecting democracy and transition in the region. Coordinated by the STINA Press Agency in Split, Croatia, the NIJ brings together more than 50 journalists from 25 countries who contribute articles about events and general trends in their own countries for publication and distribution to independent media  throughout Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, as well as to interested media outlets and others in Western Europe and the U.S. In 1997, the NIJ introduced a Weekly Service, which after a year became a weekly distributor. Each issue includes four to five articles covering current and topical subjects throughout the postcommunist region. In the last year, it has focused on the continuing crisis in the Balkans, the war in Chechnya, ongoing events in the Caucasus and Central Asia, elections in Belarus, Poland, and Romania, among other issues. The Weekly Service is distributed to nearly 300 media outlets.

Other Activities

 IDEE and its network of Centers for Pluralism are important partners and resources to a large number of Western organizations, donors, and institutions working in the region, who rely on the CfP Network for contacts, program ideas, grant recommendations, and general information. Among  the organizations IDEE collaborated with or assisted in the past two years include the AFL-CIO, the American Federation of Teachers, the Balkans Community Initiative Fund, the Central Asia Institute, Close-Up Foundation, Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, the International Crisis Group, the International League for Human Rights, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the World Press Freedom Committee, among many others.

 IDEE and the Centers for Pluralism also participate in a wide number of democracy-related events as experts and experienced activists in the field of civic development. Most importantly, in November 2000, IDEE and over 10 members of the CfP Network attended the World Movement for Democracy in Sao Paolo. The World Movement, initiated by the National Endowment for Democracy, is a broad coalition of democracy activists and organizations from throughout the world. In Sao Paolo, IDEE and the Centers for Pluralism organized a workshop on cross-border networking, which focused on common features of existing or former communist countries or satellites and the importance of expanding the CfP network on a cross-regional basis. An initial effort to meet this goal is being made by the Express Khronika human rights weekly in Moscow, which began a new daily information service, Prima, for human rights reporting. In addition to the World Movement for Democracy meeting, IDEE and Centers for Pluralism participated in the World Democracy Forum in Warsaw, Poland in June 2000, organized by Freedom House, where it successfully pressed for adoption of a resolution condemning the war in Chechnya.

Organizational Background

 IDEE is a not-for-profit tax-exempt corporation. In addition to co-director Irena Lasota and Eric Chenoweth, IDEE’s Board of Directors includes Janusz Bugajski of the Center for Strategic and International Studies; Midge Decter, former director of the Committee for the Free World; Charles Fairbanks of the Central Asia Institute; Jakub Karpinski, author and professor at Warsaw University; and Arch Puddington, author and Vice President for Publications at Freedom House. Its Board of Sponsors includes Zbigniew Brzezinski, Sandra Feldman, Pierre Hassner, Walter Laqueur, and Peter Reddaway. IDEE receives program support from the National Endowment for Democracy, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, as well as from the American Federation of Teachers, Freedom House, German Marshall Fund, the Goodbooks Foundation, among other foundations and individuals.

IDEE is a not-for-profit, tax-exempt corporation based in Washington, D.C. Its program support comes largely from the National Endowment for Democracy, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Department of State Bureau of Educational and Public Affairs. Contributors also include the American Federation of Teachers, the German Marshall Fund of the U.S., the Goodbooks Foundation, among other foundations and individuals.

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Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe

1718 M Street, NW • No. 147 • Washington, DC 20036

Tel./Fax: (202) 466-7105 • Email: [email protected] • Web Page:

Irena Lasota and Eric Chenoweth, Directors