Latest News from Transitions (TOL)

Past Events:

TOL Translation Team Releases Kyrgyz Localization for Skype
A team of 15 volunteers in Kyrgyzstan has released a Kyrgyz translation for Skype. The file, which plugs into the Skype program, allows users to interface in Kyrgyz.
The team was led by Ilya Lukash, an alumnus of the TOL 2011 Training the Trainers program in Prague. Since its release, the project has been featured on countless blogs and Internet portals, including,, and, which is one of the 10 most popular sites in the country. On the first day alone, the Skype translation had 120 downloads. 
Not a group to rest on its laurels, the team has already begun working on its next project, a localization of Mozilla Firefox into the Kyrgyz language, which it expects to finish in a month. The team also plans to tackle Kyrgyz versions of WordPress and GIMP, an open-source alternative to Photoshop.

The translation of various online tools and software into Central Asia’s local languages is part of a two-year project to promote the use of Internet media and multimedia techniques to produce content that represents a real alternative to the government-dominated information flow. The project is supported by the UN Democracy Fund

Technology and Political Accountability Earlier this month, TOL Executive Director Jeremy Druker participated in the Point conference, a three-day meetup on social media and political accountability in Sarajevo.  The conference took place from 16-18 February and featured 30 speakers covering five main issues: monitoring governments and advocacy; the openness of governments and public records; elections and the electoral process; education, information,and training; and mobilization and organization.  The event was organized by Sarajevo-based civic association Zašto ne (Why Not) in cooperation with CRTA from Serbia, Metamorphosisfrom Macedonia, and other organizations from around the region. Jeremy spoke about the Newstrust.netwebsite and how to identify and share good journalism. With support from IREX and NED, TOL is localizing Newstrust for Azerbaijan. A representative of MediaPoint, TOL’s partner NGO in Moldova, was also present at the event and spoke about the success of their team’s project, a map-based platform for citizens to report social problems in Chisinau.
During the conference, Jeremy also had a chance to sit down and talk with the workshop’s main organizer, Darko Brkan, about his inspiration for the event and its plans for the future.  The idea for the Point conference came, Darko said, as a way to bring different regional groups together to talk about ways to improve political accountability, though the idea soon expanded to include groups from beyond the region as well. “The idea is very simple: It’s sharing experiences and figuring out if the things that have already been done could be used elsewhere,” he said.

The full interview with Darko is available on TOL’s tech blog, Net Prophet

Networking with Netizens

Javid Guliyev, a young Internet enthusiast from Azerbaijan, won a travel grant through TOL’s NED-sponsored Azerbaijan program to participate in the MACBET Youth Journalism Conference, which took place in Ankara on 9-15 January (in case you’re wondering, MACBET stands for Middle East, Asia, Caucasus, Balkans, Europe, Turkey). Organized by the Turkey-based NGO YPIDA, the event gathered together young journalists and Internet activists from all over these regions to form a network to exchange new digital tools and online experience.  In total there were 37 participants representing 15 countries. Topics covered at the conference included social networks and new media technologies, media ethics and human rights, the role of the media in a democracy, and new media challenges concerning social and political changes in CIS countries, the subject of Javid’s presentation.

Javid is an active blogger and a member of the OL youth movement. He was a TOL volunteer in Azerbaijan in 2010-2011.   

Featured Content

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

2 January 2012
Moldova Opens Schools to the ‘Ineducable’
Much work remains to be done on a new government program to mainstream
mentally disabled children, but for one student the results are already striking.
by Grigore Brinza

9 January 2012
The New Old World of Wine
Russia’s wineries are on the rebound as the rising middle class rediscovers a taste for a long-neglected local product.
by Nikolay Protsenko

12 January 2012
A Poor Report Card for Macedonia’s Schools
A national inspection hands out low marks, but teachers and principals say reform solutions often ignore classroom realities.
by Ljubica Grozdanovska Dimishkovska

18 January 2012
Lessons for Life in 64 Squares
Beloved in Armenia, chess becomes a mandatory part of the country’s curriculum.
by Sona Kocharyan

25 January 2012
Home Again, Sixty-Seven Years Later
Expelled by Stalin, one Meskhetian family finally makes it back to Georgia.
by Temo Bardzimashvili

27 January 2012
Communities of Despair
Russian authorities seem oblivious to the stubbornly high teen suicide rate. Troubled youngsters are increasingly looking for solace online.
by Alexander Tretyakov

Success Story

Georgian Satire
Two TOL alumni from Georgia, Dodi Kharkheli and Nodar Davituri, continue to have growing success with their project, a fake news site similar to The Onion. Both participated in TOL workshops in 2009 and Nodar attended TOL’s new media summer school held in Prague in 2010. is already one of the most popular sites in Georgia, with about 1,000 visitors a day and more than 11,000 fans on Facebook. The site was featured in TOL’s magazine last May.

In addition to their satirical take on the news, the two are prominent bloggers and social media wunderkinds in Georgia. Dodi, who has been blogging for five years at, took part in creating the Georgian blog catalogue She consults and leads training on new/social media and online marketing, including for TOL. Nodar, who blogs at, is a new media evangelist in Georgia and the author of He is director of the web department at the PIK Russian-language TV channel.

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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