The John Smith Trust’s new Leaders in Exile Programmes are for leaders with passion and purpose who are living in exile and working towards their vision of a free and peaceful future for their country. The Future of Russia programme brings together exceptional Russian professionals from different sectors, including civil society, journalism, politics, social enterprise, business, education, the arts, science and technology, whose work contributes towards improving future governance, justice and sustainability in their society and beyond. 

The programme will foster a collaborative community of leaders and change-makers with a firm commitment to the values at the heart of the John Smith Trust: openness, equity, curiosity, connection and courage. The hybrid programme offers a chance for Fellows to gain insights into the values, ways of working, and challenges faced by people and institutions in the UK, and to connect with counterparts and learn from each other’s work. The sessions are designed to support Fellows to work together and individually to develop the insights and skills needed to build the kinds of societies they want to live in in the future. 

The programme will be delivered from October 2024 to February 2025 and is comprised of a series of online workshops and a week-long residential programme in the UK. Fellows will participate in a core programme of group workshops and visits as well as an individually tailored programme related to their Action Plan. After completing the programme, Fellows will join the collaborative community of John Smith Fellows and will have the opportunity to participate in network activities online and in person. 

Key information 

Below are the key details concerning the programme’s format and your eligibility to take part. You can find further information on our FAQs page. 

Dates and format 

  • The programme will run from October 2024 to February 2025. Please note that the exact dates may be subject to change.  
  • Fellows will come to the UK from Friday 29th November to Sunday 8th December. 


For this year’s pilot programme, we will select Fellows based on the following criteria:  

  • Russian citizen living in exile outside the Russian Federation (no residence requirements) 
  • NOT connected to the Russian state or state-affiliated bodies or who have actively supported the war 
  • Demonstrated support for the Trust’s position on the war and a demonstrated commitment to progressing shared values of tolerance, respect openness as well as governance that is rules-based and people-focused 
  • Demonstrated potential as a leader in your chosen professional field, committed to building a fairer, more sustainable, and inclusive society in Russia 
  • Aged over 25 and under 40 
  • Propose an ‘Action Plan’ addressing a challenge in policy or practice in your field of expertise aimed at contributing to the development of a free and peaceful future for Russia, which you intend to implement after the programme, and which will be informed by your experience in the UK. 

Please note that the candidates selected are those whom the Trust feels will make the most significant long-term positive impact on their society’s development and not the development of their own careers.  

Application process 

  • The application process consists of an online application form, an online interview for those who are shortlisted, and a final stage face-to-face interview.   
  • Applications will close on Sunday 23rd June 23:59 BST. We reserve the right to close applications early if we receive a high number of applications. Therefore you are advised to submit your application as early as possible. 

Apply now