Latest News from Transitions (TOL)

Past Events

In Georgia, spreading the gospel of social media town by town

Social media tools tend to catch on much more quickly in a country’s capital, where almost all the early-adopters live. It usually takes longer for users from the small towns and villages to pick up on what these tools are capable of. Our team in Georgia is trying to fix that.
Earlier this month, 19 students from four high schools in the western Georgian town of Khoni (pop. 11,300) got a chance to explore the ins and outs of social media under the guidance of new/social media specialists Sandro Asatiani and Anna Asatiani. The two-day training event took place on 26-27 March and was organized by TOL as part of a project supported by the Transition Promotion Program at the Czech Foreign Ministry.

The group investigated different social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter and how to use them. They also discussed how to create and, perhaps most importantly, how to promote blogs and generate wider interest. The group also explored what podcasts can offer that blogs or other formats cannot.

So here’s a hearty welcome to the global online conversation for the 19 Khoni students. We look forward to hearing what you have to say.

Promoting online safety in Azerbaijan

With all the benefits the Internet brings to people around the world, sometimes the pitfalls of global interconnectivity, like viruses, identity theft, spying, and scams, can be brushed aside.

That’s why Transition’s Azerbaijan team is trying to spread awareness about the dangers of the Internet and what users can do to protect themselves. Lead trainer Emin Huseynzade said online safety is a big concern in Azerbaijan, especially considering the lack of awareness about it. “Azerbaijan users are not aware of privacy problems that they face in online areas, and there is a lot of information that is needed for nearly everybody.”

In March Huseynzade’s team printed a booklet on online security with the help of a grant from the National Endowment for Democracy. Twelve hundred copies are being distributed to NGOs, youth centers, schools, and universities around the country.

The booklet covers the importance of using licensed content on the Internet through Creative Commons and other sources; the danger of viruses and the tools to clean your computer; bots, malware, DDoS attacks; anti-spyware programs; and social networks and the fundamentals of online privacy. Huseynzade said reaction so far to the booklet has been positive and the team is starting the next step of putting together a workshop on information culture and security.

Featured Content

Transitions Online ( often showcases the work produced through our grant programs. Some of the highlights from February include the following stories:

1 February 2012
A Small House in Schinoasa
It took a joint effort by government, the UN, and IKEA to open a kindergarten in one Moldovan Romani settlement. Perhaps the next 50 will go more smoothly.
by Grigor Brinza

7 February 2012
In Kyrgyzstan, Buyer Beware
Repeated failures to sell public companies may be a hangover from a hasty privatization.
by Askar Aktalov

10 February 2012
Russian Anti-Extremism Law Under Scrutiny in Case Against Anti-Fascist
A young activist faces trial in Russia for membership in a “red anarchist skinhead” group he claims does not exist.
by Alexander Tretyakov

14 February 2012
Azerbaijan and Iran: Suspicious Minds
Cyber attacks, a murdered journalist, and an alleged assassination plot speak to an increasingly dangerous north-south divide.
by Shahla Sultanova

17 February 2012
Georgia Says, ‘Come Kill Our Threatened Species’
Hunting for tourists, Tbilisi lifts protections for animals widely considered endangered.
by Tsira Gvasalia

22 February 2012
For Russian Readers, E = Free
The market for digital books is a cinch for rapid growth, if Russian publishers can convince pirates to become paying customers.
by Vladimir Kozlov

23 February 2012
Criminalizing Difference
Laws against “gay propaganda” are sweeping across Russia, creating scapegoats and solving a problem that doesn’t exist.
by Galina Stolyarova

24 February 2012
New Law Aims to Pin Down Georgia’s Absent Fathers
One woman’s painful crusade makes it easier for single mothers to get support.
by Eka Chitanava

28 February 2012
Punks Against Putin
Russia’s newly famous protest band continues to play cat and mouse with the authorities, even as criminal charges loom.
by Alexander Tretyakov

Success Story

Blogging your way to a job (or two)

Georgian journalism student Gvantsa Totadze got firsthand experience of what a well-written blog can do for launching a young journalist’s career. Totadze, a student at Kutaisi State University, took part in a TOL workshop for students in Kutaisi as well as a summer camp for journalism students that took place in Patardzeuli (both part of the Czech Foreign Ministry project mentioned above). After the training, she launched her own blogand started posting mostly about social problems.
As a result of her blogging, she was offered a job as a reporter for local radio station Zveli Kalaki (Old Town) and a spot as a regional correspondent for  Net Gazeti, one of the most reliable news sites in Georgia. Totadze said yes to both.

Current Projects

Azerbaijan and Moldova
Promoting the use of new media and social media among journalists, civil society organizations, and young people.
Training journalists to cover issues related to the environment.
Central Asia
Promoting the use of Internet media and new media techniques to produce, promote, and distribute new forms of content.
Improving the quality of environmental investigative journalism while increasing the impact of the environmental movement in Russia.
Education Reporting
Using distance learning courses, workshops, and other resources to improve reporting on education-related topics.
Roma Multimedia Training
Training Roma and majority community journalists in multimedia story-telling, with a special focus on Roma issues.

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