We continue to experiment with new online formats and services and are grateful to our stakeholders for their open-mindedness and flexibility.

So, on 23 and on 25 June 2020, a virtual visit of Russian civil society actors to Brussels took place. We planned multiple meetings in person in March 2020 already, then hoped for open borders in June but finally moved four meetings completely online. A good thing is that we managed to gather a way more representatives of EU institutions – European External Action Service, EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Foreign Policy Instrument, members of the European Parliament, associates of Permanent Representations of EU member states. Besides, officials joined from all over Europe not necessarily from Brussels.

At the meetings, various Russia-related questions were discussed – such as the amendments to the Constitution, court hearings and cases of political prisoners, healthy recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic, need for a support of youth exchanges with EU member states, acute environmental problems, gender issues and the situation of vulnerable groups.

As the online format worked out so well, the parties agreed that such online and hybrid meetings would make sense also in the future, e.g., every half a year or even every quarter.