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Sowing the seeds of online activism throughout Moldova

Of all the countries Transitions works in, Moldova has been a standout success when it comes to social media. 

In the last four years, not only has the country’s youth wholeheartedly embraced social networking and online activism, but Chisinau has also seen the rise of one of the post-Soviet bloc’s most fertile blogospheres (see this month’s success story for a great example).

This is in no small part due to the tireless efforts of our team and our local partners at MediaPoint, who have been particularly busy this spring.

In late March, TOL project manager Andrei Fornea and MediaPoint, through the support of the National Endowment for Democracy and the Transition Promotion Program of the Czech Foreign Ministry, launched thenationwide New Media Academy, a series of 10 training events across the country, including two in the separatist region of Transdniester.

These workshops, four of which took place this month, have focused on building social media skills and implementing social innovation projects, and will benefit 150 young people nationwide.

The trainers, Radu Lisita and Viorel Rodideal, both of whom are alumni of TOL’s social media courses, have also worked with participants on ways to improve local projects, such as regional blogging websites Tineri Trasnet and Hincesteni Online.

Taking such training to young people living outside of the capital is vital to helping Moldova’s online community grow (and can be a much-appreciated social and creative lifeline to some of Moldova’s more geographically isolated youth).

While the country’s online ecosystem is indeed blooming, the majority of the voices still come from Chisinau. But with MediaPoint’s help – and a little elbow grease and inspiration from the New Media Academy’s alumni – we can expect to see a new crop of blogs come autumn.

Help us connect the dots

Time for something a little different.

It’s not often we put out a request for help in this newsletter, which most of the time, we admit, is used to toot our own horn (but, really, whose newsletter isn’t?).

But we hope to catch your attention and get some valuable input from you.

Here’s the situation: We are creating an international online platform for nonprofits and civic activists to share resources across borders and languages. Put simply, the platform, which is being built through the support of the Visegrad Fund, is part social network for NGOs, part curated library of resources, and part collection of interactive online courses. For example, we want to help a Georgian NGO learn how to improve its social media outreach by connecting with a similar NGO in the Czech Republic that has developed its own guide on the subject.

Here’s what we need: If you or your organization has any resources (anything from PowerPoint presentations and handbooks to mobile apps or instructional videos) and you don’t mind sharing, please let us know. We are looking for resources on almost any topic civil society groups are typically involved in.

If you have anything that you can pass our way (regardless of language or topic) please fill out this Google form. If it is a file, please email it to the content curator, Jaroslav Valuch, at

Success Story

“Write about what you love”

This month’s success story shows how new media are changing the landscape of traditional media and allowing amateur writers to step up and have their voices heard.

One look at Dumitru Zagorneanu’s blog and it’s clear that he loves volleyball. The site is full of match updates, photos, and heated debates about the sport.

In just two years and after 175 articles, the Moldovan blogger has built the site into one of the foremost outlets for volleyball-related news in the country and in the process has become one of Moldova’s top sports bloggers.

The idea to start a blog about volleyball took root in 2011 at a TOL-led training, which Dumitru recounts in his first blog post. He writes that he had wanted to start a blog for a while, but it wasn’t until one of the trainers asked him, “Dima, what do you like?”

“Volleyball,” Dumitru responded.

“Then write about volleyball! You have to write about what you truly love.”

Shortly after, he set up his blog. 

Since then (a mere 130,000 visitors later) Dumitru has used his site to promote the sport and report on matches as well as highlight issues faced by Moldovan athletes. He’s even been contacted by the traditional press to provide information on some of the games he’s covered. But his posts aren’t always flattering.

On at least one occasion Dumitru even received a phone call from the Moldovan Volleyball Federation asking him to remove a post to which the group objected.

But delving into the less glamorous topics related to sports is a goal for Dumitru, and that’s important in a country where issues faced by athletes are often ignored by the sports’ governing bodies and under-reported by traditional media in favor of ever-present political scandals.

Beyond the occasional controversial post, Dumitru’s passion for the sport shines through. And for us, it’s great to see someone translate that passion into an influential publication that has spurred discussion and connected a devoted community.

After all, that’s what social media is all about.

Featured Content

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

3 April 2013
Filling in Georgia’s Blanks
Two new books make notable additions to the small shelf of works in English on the intricate history of Georgia.
By Lincoln A. Mitchell

5 April 2013
Georgia’s Free, Albeit Non-Existent, Preschools
A move intended to make preschool available to all could have the opposite effect.
By Tamar Kikacheishvili

11 April 2013
Moldova: Retirement Paradise Lost
Rising poverty and splintered families wreak havoc on the lives of the country’s oldest citizens.
By Dmitri Romanovski

12 April 2013
Mind the Gap
Dmitry Bykov’s new novel solves the biggest mystery of Russian literature but raises some questions about the author and Russia itself.
By Ostap Karmodi

19 April 2013
Kazakhstan Enters the Twilight Zone
A new book tries to envision the country in the wake of its septuagenarian president’s departure.

24 April 2013
Air Rage
A move to re-open an airport in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory raises the stakes between Azerbaijan and Armenia
By Arifa Kazimova

Current Projects

Azerbaijan and Moldova
Promoting the use of new media and social media among journalists, civil society organizations, and young people.
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.

How Can You Help?

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