The month of October turned out to be a busy time for the Forum.
On 30 September – 2 October 2019, Konstantin Baranov (Rostov-on-Don/ Dundee) of the International Youth Human Rights Movement, external expert of the Forum Advocacy Task Force; Pavel Havlíček (Prague/ Brussels) of the Association for International Affairs; Nela Laryšová (Prague/ Berlin), EU-Russia Legal Dialogue Programme Coordinator at the Forum Secretariat; Nikola Mokrović (Zagreb) of Documenta – Centre for Dealing with the Past and Olga Sadovskaya (Nizhny Novgorod) of the Committee against Torture (both Forum Board members) visited the autumn session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg. On the sidelines of the event, they met with relevant stakeholders and decision makers, including Marija Pejčinović Burić, the new Secretary General of the Council of Europe. The colleagues also presented the first draft of a non-paper on the situation after the return of Russia to the PACE and the ways to increase efficiency of the organisation in the future.
Later the same week, on 3-4 October 2019, the situation of the Russian civil society was in the spotlight of the visit to Brussels. In cooperation with the Permanent Representation of Finland to the European Union, the country currently holding the presidency in the EU Council, a breakfast talk on the Russian media landscape was organised. Galina Arapova of the Mass Media Defence Centre (Voronezh), David Frenkel of “Mediazona” (Moscow) and Kirill Martynov of “Novaya Gazeta”/ Higher School of Economics (Moscow) reflected on opportunities and threats, as well as new roles journalists and media take on in Russia. Further meetings in Brussels included exchange of opinions with the European External Action Service, the European Parliament, representation offices of EU member states and other bodies.
Finally, the month ended with another highlight event of the Forum. The EU-Russia Legal Dialogue Symposium, which was happening on 31 October – 2 November 2019 in Berlin, provoked fierce discussion on the future of the Council of Europe among lawyers and civil society actors from all over Europe. However, more discussions and policy papers on the topic are yet to come, and the Forum Advocacy Task Force is preparing for the next visit to Strasbourg already.