Alexei Kozlov, Executive Director at the Association "Solidarity with Civil Society Movement in Russia" (Solidarität mit der Bürgerbewegung in Russland), Coordinator of the Solidarity Group, reflects on the essence and sense of the group:

The Solidarity Group was established at the 5th General Assembly of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum in November 2014 in Tallinn (Estonia). It was a reaction to the repressions against nonprofit organisations and activists in Russia. In 2014, a number of organisations (including Forum members) were put on the list of “foreign agents”, while their leaders were persecuted.
The main topics of the group are promotion of principles and provision of support by the Forum; recommendations for those, who want to get this assistance, and for those, who want to provide support; development of mechanisms of rapid reaction to the situations that require solidary actions – along with the programmes of long-term support of activists and organisations. In addition, we plan to gather the best practices of solidary actions and create a database of resources. By that, I mean initiatives and organisations, which are not included in the Forum’s structure but which are eager to provide support. We are considering the possibility of launching a hotline, as long as the number of situations that require rapid reaction is growing.
Intensification of pressure on the civil society in Russia in 2015 confirmed the significance and necessity in the Solidarity Group. Many Russian NGOs were put on the list of “foreign agents” (86 NGOs on the list as of today). Apart from that, the adoption and implementation of the law on “foreign agents” and other repressive laws put representatives of Russian civil society in a very difficult position, which requires assistance on the daily basis. Strengthening and developing this cooperation are main tasks of the group.
It is worth noting that the fact that many prominent members of NGOs from Russia have been leaving the country is a sad trend of 2015. The majority of them are forced to apply for the asylum in different EU member states, because they undergo politically motivated persecutions in Russia. Some activists and NGO representatives leave Russia due to direct threats to their lives and health. This situation is relatively new (I mean the increased number of such cases) and needs to be adequately addressed and considered by the Forum.
A Group plan for the future is to revise and modify principles and rules of providing support, which has to be presented at the 6th General Assembly of the Forum on 7-9 December 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. Furthermore, the launch of a Solidarity Fund will be one of the priorities for the next year.