“I don’t think there’s any other fellowship out there, any other place where I could have got not only the financial support but also the editorial and content-related support I needed to make my story into the piece of journalism it came out to be.”
For my RVI fellowship, I explored the relationships between the Ukrainian far-right – specifically the Azov movement – and the Croatian far-right. It’s not something I could have done without the support of BIRN and RVI.
The process of writing my story showed exactly why I needed the support of something like the RVI fellowship. My story focused on the connections between the Ukrainian and Croatian far-right; while I was already relatively well-versed on the Ukrainian side of the far-right story, having written about it many times previously, I was less familiar with the Croatian side of things. I needed time to get up to speed, time to meet with every single person I could in Zagreb to tell me who was who on Croatia’s far-right, who was on the rise, whose star was falling, etc. Once I felt I understood more of that context, I dove deeper into contacting specific individuals who knew more – or were themselves involved – in efforts at cooperation between the Croatian and Ukrainian far-right. I couldn’t have done that without the support offered by the RVI fellowship, with a few weeks to focus just on this side of things in Croatia and nothing else; it took a lot of digging and cajoling, but I eventually found all the information I needed for my story by the time I’d left Croatia. It also didn’t hurt that the party working closest with Azov, the “Sovereignists” of Ruza Tomasic, fared much better than expected in May’s European Parliament elections.
Did the RVI fellowship meet my expectations? Absolutely – I don’t think there’s any other fellowship out there, any other place where I could have got not only the financial support but also the editorial and content-related support (e.g., advice on contacts within Croatia) I needed to make my story into the piece of journalism it came out to be. The way that my piece was nudged along and edited, along with some top-notch visual material that BIRN’s folks did with some of the photos I had stored away, made the final product something I’m immensely proud of.
Michael Colborne is a Canadian journalist. He covers social and political issues in central and eastern Europe, and is currently focused on the trans-national far right.
His work has appeared in Foreign Policy, The New Republic, Haaretz, CBC, The Guardian and others.
The Resonant Voices Initiative in the EU is funded by the European Union’s Internal Security Fund – Police.
The of this story is the sole responsibility of BIRN and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.