The plenipotentiary Secretariat of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum was established in February 2014 in Berlin, Germany. Its main target is to coordinate the Forum’s everyday work.

To contact the Secretariat’s associates please go to the Contact page.

Programme Lead, Culture 

Barbara Anna Bernsmeier is an experienced cultural and project manager with a focus on Russia and the Eastern Partnership. From 2005 to 2012 Barbara studied Comparative literature, Slavic Studies, and German philology at the Ludwig Maximilian University (Munich, Germany) and the Orenburg State University (Russia). After completing her Masters Degree she worked for the Goethe-Institut as a teaching assistant for German language and culture at Novosibirsk State University. From 2013 to 2015, she was based in Volgograd obtaining a 2-year scholarship for the Programme “Cultural Managers in the Russian Federation” by the Robert Bosch Foundation. After that, she moved to Berlin to dedicate her work to the intersection between cultural practice and civil society. In 2016 Barbara joined the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum. Since 2020, she coordinates the cultural programs of the Forum, including Europe Lab, Reflecting Europe and other event series. She is also responsible for CSF’s General Assembly and Climate projects.

Office Manager / Technical Administrator

Alexander studied modern philology (English and Slavic studies) at the University of Leipzig as well as culture and literature of Central and Eastern Europe at the Humboldt University in Berlin. Alexander has worked with various interdisciplinary cultural and political topics as well as cultural artefacts – such as film, theatre, performance arts, comics, etc. in the intercultural context. He is a professional linguist as well as specialised in regional and cultural studies, theory and history of literature. Besides taking care of the Berlin office management, Alex is responsible for data security and legal compliance.

Senior Financial Officer

Elena Komarova joined the Forum in 2019. She has a degree in economics from the Plekhanov University of Economics and MBA in international business from MiB Trieste School of Management. Elena brings over fifteen years of managing various administrative and financial tasks in international non-governmental organisations in Russia and Europe. She previously worked for Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (Lithuania), European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups (Netherlands), Population Services International (USA), and GBCHealth (USA). Elena is a point person on CSF financial matters, responsible for coordination and control of all financial processes related to CSF e.V., including budgeting, reporting, policies/procedures.

Legal Dialogue Programme Lead (part-time)

Nela joined the Forum in 2019. Prior to that, she worked as Project Coordinator for Eastern Europe in several Czech NGOs. Apart from that, she has been engaged in the non-governmental activities with focus on Russian legal developments, human rights, history and culture. Nela graduated in law and Eastern European studies from the Charles University in Prague. During her studies, she spent several semesters at the Moscow State University and the University College London. Currently, she pursues her PhD in international law. Nela speaks Czech, English, French and Russian. At the Secretariat, Nela coordinates EU-Russia Legal Dialogue Programme and its sub-elements including Legal Dialogue Journal.

Financial Assistant / Controller 

Rasa joined the Forum in 2017. Before that she studied BA Social work in Vilnius University and did the Erasmus exchange in United Kingdom. After her bachelor studies she got funding from the European Voluntary Service program and volunteered in Armenia as an office assistant and animator in “Ognem Fund” for children with blood diseases. Later, returned to Lithuania and continued working as a project administrator in Lithuanian Social Research Center in Vilnius. After her contract ended, Rasa moved to Denmark where she graduated from Copenhagen University with a master degree in Religious science. At the Secretariat, Rasa assists with financial management tasks.

Re-granting Programmes Coordinator (part-time)

Christina joined the Forum in 2018. She also completed an internship at the Forum Secretariat in 2016. She holds a Master’s degree in Interpreting from the University of Vienna and a Bachelor’s degree in Translation from the University of Leipzig, which included an exchange semester in Paris. During her studies, Christina worked as a teaching assistant for German language and culture in Astana / Kazakhstan and was a trainee at the Friedrich-Ebert foundation in Kyiv. She carried out youth projects for Memorial Deutschland e.V. and was a volunteer at Memorial St. Petersburg. Christina is responsible for the re-granting programmes within the Forum, such as the Partnership Projects and the Study Tours. Being part of the Legal Dialogue team, she also coordinates the LD Travel Grants programme.

Executive Director

Before joining the Forum, Anna worked as Russia Director at Human Rights Watch. She has over 15 years of experience in working on civil society and human rights in the Eurasia region. Ms. Sevortian was Galina Starovoitova Fellow at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC, and Deputy Director of the Centre for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights in Moscow, Russia. Over the years, she contributed to 40 research and evaluation projects and publications in Russian and English. Anna holds Mid-Career MPA from Harvard Kennedy School and a degree in journalism from the Moscow State University. As the Forum Executive Director, Anna is responsible for the overall management, development and representation of the organisation at all levels.

Deputy Director

Since the Forum’s creation in 2011, Kristina has been contributing to its development. Since 2015, she has led Operations and Programmes Department. In 2013, she initiated the Forum Working Group “Historical Memory and Education” that she coordinated until 2017. Kristina is one of the curators of the exhibition “Different Wars: National School Textbooks on World War II” and a co-author of the accompanying catalogue. She studied cultural heritage and languages in Lithuania, Germany and Turkey. As a Deputy Director, Kristina oversees programmes/projects and operations of the Secretariat, as well as supports organisational developement. She is in charge of coordinating annual General Assemblies, EU-Russia Civil Society Research and the History Programme.

Communications Lead

Sergei has extensive experiences in media and communications, project management and non-formal education. He contributed to numerous Russian media, including “Russia Profile”, “Russian Journal”, Snob.Ru as well as foreign news portals. Sergei holds a master’s degree in German studies, political sciences, and communication sciences from the Ludwig Maximilian University (Munich, Germany). Sergei fluently speaks English, German, Polish, and Russian as his mother tongue and can communicate in 15 other languages. Sergei is in charge of Forum external communications, media work and coordination of the Advocacy Group work.

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Project Manager

Marcus joined the Forum in 2021. He studied BA German & Russian in Sheffield and MA International Relations in Historical Perspective at Utrecht University, and developed a strong interest in languages, history and historical memory. He has had a varied career path so far, working as an English-language teaching assistant in a school in Innsbruck, doing seasonal work in event-planning departments in Austria, and working in communications for BlaBlaCar in Berlin. After living in the UK, Austria, Russia, the Netherlands and now Germany, he speaks German, Russian and Dutch, as well as English as his native language. At the Forum Marcus works as a project manager in the programmes department, helps organise internal and external events, and is responsible for the Forum’s history programme Confronting Memories.