Can social entrepreneurs become the key players of civil society? How does volunteering contribute to regional development? What can be done to revitalise post-Soviet dormitory suburbs? How to combine activism and art? These topics were the focus of the Berlin organisation Dekabristen in 2019.

Dekabristen e.V. is an association of Russian-speaking Berliners, created in 2012 with the aim of developing intercultural dialogue and supporting civil society in Eastern Europe. In 2019, the organisation carried out several major projects, and became a part of the Center for Sustainable Development, founded jointly with CISR e.V.

In the “courtyard”, where the offices of both organisations are located, several public discussions have already taken place, and in the winter of 2020 the first exhibition will be held. The public space of the “courtyard” can be rented for events related to sustainable development, cultural and project management, social entrepreneurship, and non-profit initiatives.

The second Red Square Festival became a significant event for the Dekabristen Berlin life. The event was attended by Oleg Navalny, Marat Gelman, singers AIGEL and Grechka. Among other festival highlights, there were the films about LGBT+ in Eastern Europe and about Oleg Sentsov and discussions on the historical memory and new sensitivity in contemporary art.

Red Square was not the only festival organised by Dekabristen in 2019. As part of the International Volunteer Exchange project, artistic residences were organised on the Lake Baikal (Russia) and in Belovezhskaya Pushcha (Belarus), and both were ended by a festival. The CONTEXT and CONTACT festivals were attended by artists, musicians, social entrepreneurs and activists. In addition to artistic practices, participants of the International Volunteer Exchange 2019 built hiking trails in Russia and Moldova and studied volunteering in protected nature areas in Ukraine and Belarus.

Within the framework of the “Laboratory for Sustainable Development” and “Citizen +” projects, seminars on social entrepreneurship, ecology, gender equality and small media were organized. These seminars took place in different cities of Belarus (Minsk), Moldova (Chisinau), Russia (Voronezh, Irkutsk, St. Petersburg and Syktyvkar) and Ukraine (Kyiv, Lviv and Kharkiv). The last point visited by the Dekabristen was a protest camp against the construction of a landfill at the Shies station in Russia.

In 2020, the Dekabristen invite for participation in the Summer School of Social Innovation, workshops on the development of dormitory suburbs Act | Up, support programmes for regional media projects Metamedia Lab, volunteer exchanges on Lake Baikal, Belovezhskaya Pushcha and historical place Orheiul Vechi in Moldova, as well as in the third Red Square Festival, which will be held on May 15-16 at Kulturfabrik Moabit in Berlin.