Public service reform in Uzbekistan

16 Dec 2020 At a recent John Smith Trust (JST) online event on digital governance, Mirzokhid Karshiev was reunited with Julie Kane, Head of Digital Strategy and Policy for the Scottish Government.  Mirzokhid, a governance specialist from Uzbekistan, had met Julie in 2017 while in the UK on a John Smith Trust Fellowship Programme.  Along with a number of […]

Pioneering Recycling Culture in Armenia

10 Dec 2020 Armenia has a massive rubbish problem.  Despite its small geographical size and a population of only 3 million, it is the sixth highest waste-producing state in the world according to the UN. Mkhitar Avetisyan (JST 2019), formerly a leading specialist at the Ministry of Nature Protection, is a recycling pioneer in Armenia.  In 2017, determined to improve the waste […]

Supporting Mental Health in Russia

30 Nov 2020 (Photo: Artem Novikov, far right of the picture, in front of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh with his fellow John Smith Trust Fellows from Russia) Dr Artem Novikov (JST 2019) is a Moscow-based psychiatrist specialising in children and adolescents. As well as having his own practice, he also works for the Centre for Curative Pedagogics […]

Youth Advocacy in Kyrgyzstan

12 Nov 2020 Zamira Isakova (JST 2018) is a political analyst and peacebuilding specialist from Kyrgyzstan’s ‘southern capital’ Osh. This old Silk Road city at the heart of the Ferghana Valley is known for its rich cultural heritage and ethnic diversity. The population is comprised of citizens with ethnic Kyrgyz, Uzbek, Uighur, Turkish and Russian backgrounds amongst other […]

Uniting civil society in Georgia during Covid-19

06 Nov 2020 Little did Ketevan Chachava know that the concepts for civic initiatives she developed while in the UK in 2019 on her John Smith Trust Fellowship Programme would be a life line for many less than a year later during a global pandemic! Ketevan is at the heart of civil society organising in Tbilisi, Georgia. She […]

Developing financial services in Turkmenistan

15 Oct 2020   The John Smith Trust has welcomed Fellows from Turkmenistan to its Fellowship Programmes since 2012 – and Maksat Keshiyev was our first. Turkmenistan has been taking steps to modernise its banking industry in recent years. Investment in financial institutions, modernisation and greater economic diversification are considered essential for Turkmenistan’s sustainable economic development. At the […]

Protecting the Environment in Belarus

08 Oct 2020 Anastasia Zhdanovich (JST Belarus Fellow) with Baroness Catherine Ashton, then Chair of the John Smith Trust. Anastasia Zhdanovich is a lawyer from Minsk – a 3rd generation lawyer in a family of lawyers in fact.  Deeply impacted by the effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster she saw around her while growing up, she was determined […]

Access to pro-bono legal services in Azerbaijan

02 Oct 2020 Legal aid and pro bono legal services are available in Azerbaijan in some form, but a structured and efficient system at the national level which guarantees access to vulnerable and disadvantaged groups is not yet in place. Steps are being taken by some institutions to establish a more robust system to give timely access to […]

Leadership in Kazakhstan’s Akmola Region

24 Sep 2020 One hour outside Nur Sultan is the rural village of Rodina in the Akmola region.  Rodina is the home of Bella Gazdiyeva (JST 2017, Kazakhstan), a passionate educationalist and environmentalist. Bella has had a spectacular career progression in recent years against all the odds for her age, gender and ethnic background. She has gone from […]

Dialogue and Devolution in Moldova

18 Sep 2020 Following the finalising of a protracted and controversial governmental reform process, the 12-month period between 2018 and 2019 in Moldova was politically turbulent. Parliamentary elections were followed by political crises and the inability for three months to form a coalition government – which, having finally been established, was then dismissed five months later. This unsettled […]

Innovation for citizen participation in Ukraine

11 Sep 2020 Vadim Georgienko (JST 2006, Ukraine) is a social entrepreneur working to find innovative solutions for development challenges. He has an impressive track record for innovation and problem-solving in the area of civil society and citizen empowerment. Most recently Vadim co-founded ‘Smart Interactions’ (SI), a new type of system architecture which is aimed at addressing local issues and global challenges on […]

Medical Ombudsman’s Institute in Armenia

03 Sep 2020 Currently medical errors in Armenia are considered a crime and judged according to criminal law.  Without the independent and impartial investigation of an ombudsmen the rights of both patient and doctor are not protected, making it harder to achieve transparency, accountability or clarity in healthcare provision.  Determined to change this, Meri Katvalyan (JST, 2018) has […]

Promoting impact investing in Russia

27 Aug 2020 Social entrepreneurship in Russia is a relatively recent concept but in the past 12 years it has been actively developing. So in 2017, when Sergei Ponomarev applied for the John Smith Trust Fellowship Programme as a researcher at a Russian social entrepreneurship NGO, he was looking to glean as much as he could from the […]

Inspiring girls to dream big in rural Tajikistan  

20 Aug 2020   Muhaiyo Nozimova, Sabrina Kandenova and Regina Sokolova (JST 2018, Tajikistan) have been supporting girls at a remote school in Tajikistan’s Abdurahmoni Jomi District to follow their professional dreams – both for themselves and their communities. These three talented professionals from different sectors met during their JST Fellowship Programme in the UK. Muhaiyo is a journalist and founder of Zira Media, an online platform […]
John Smith Trust Fellow

Raising awareness through documentary making

13 Aug 2020   In 2019, Kyrgyz journalist Aigul Adzheiva produced her first documentary, a hard hitting look at issues of injustice connected with gender inequality in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.  The documentary, called ‘A Stolen Life’ examined the practices of bride kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan and virgin medical tests in Tajikistan through the anguished stories of individual families. It  aired on the NTS Channel in Kyrgyzstan in October 2019 and was also posted on YouTube where it has had over 150,000 views to date. Revealing the very […]
Levan Makhashvili, JST Fellow, Georgia 2018

Georgia’s effective response to COVID-19

06 Aug 2020 Georgia has been praised and admired round the world for its swift and effective national response to COVID-19. Together with the health authorities and relevant ministries, the Parliament of Georgia has been at the centre of its national response. The Georgian Parliament’s role and expertise during the pandemic were greatly supported by both the newly-established […]

New leadership at the national think tank for reforms in Uzbekistan 

30 Jul 2020 Bobur Bekmuradov (JST 2018, Uzbekistan) has been appointed the Chairman of the nationwide movement ‘Yuksalish’, the national think tank for reforms in Uzbekistan. His new position has been given ministerial status by special decree. The appointment is recognition for Bobur’s considerable contribution to building democratic institutions since being elected an MP in December 2019 and […]

Post-legislative scrutiny: a step towards accountable policing in Kyrgyzstan

28 Jul 2020   The Kyrgyz Parliament recently adopted a new methodology for post-legislative scrutiny, meaning that MPs will be able to provide evidence-based parliamentary oversight more effectively. The new method allows lawmakers and civil society to analyse the effectiveness of laws that have been enacted and ensure that new laws are working in practice in the way that they were intended. This development is in no small part down to Timur Shaikhutdinov (JST 2018, Kyrgyzstan) and his colleagues and is a […]

Free legal aid in Uzbekistan

22 Jul 2020   Mushtariy Madrakhimova (Uzbekistan, JST 2019) has been at the heart of a project opening 56 offices of the ‘Madad Centre’, providing free legal aid across Uzbekistan. The project is part of Mushtariy’s work at the Ministry of Justice in Tashkent, where she leads a joint UK-Uzbek initiative to create a legal information portal to […]

Mediation – Alternative Dispute Resolution in Uzbekistan

22 Jul 2020   Within six months of returning home from her JST Fellowship Programme, Rano Ismailova (JST 2019) has already taken solid steps towards her goal of making Uzbekistan a hub for mediation. Not only have Rano’s recommendations on the new Uzbek law on mediation been included in a June 2020 parliamentary resolution, she has also started […]