Kaliningrad. Photo: Uffe Gardel
Kaliningrad. Photo: Uffe Gardel

If in Kaliningrad you look due east, there is more than 500 kilometres to the rest of Russia. A tiny piece of Russia far from its motherland and surrounded on all sides by the EU. This is where the most Western-oriented of all Russians live. Nordic Journalist Centre has developed a research trip aimed at journalists from the Nordic countries.

By John Frølich

Russia plays an increasing role in the Nordic countries, and yet we know so little about Russian daily life and culture. And we probably know even less about the small Russian enclave Kaliningrad.

It is therefore essential that Nordic journalists meet the locals in Kaliningrad and exchange experiences.
This is how course leaders Arne Grove and Uffe Gardel sum up the overall purpose of Nordic Journalist Centre’s study trip / research trip to Kaliningrad in April 2018.

This trip provides an overview of the historical and political situation in Kaliningrad, the relationship between the EU and Russia, the relationship to the Nordic and Baltic countries, and not least the media position in an enclave characterized by multiplicity and many small independent media businesses.

At the helm are two highly experienced Russia experts: Arne Grove, who has lived and worked in Russia for twenty years, among others as Danish consul and head of the Information Office of the Nordic Council of Ministers in Kaliningrad, and Uffe Gardel, journalist (The national daily Berlingske and others) and communication adviser.

Kaliningrad. Photo: Ole Rode Jensen

“If you want to network with Russian colleagues and get an idea of their everyday life and working conditions, you simply have to visit them in Russia. It will never work to the same extent if you invited the Russians over here,” says Arne Grove.

The trip offers multiple opportunities to interact with the locals. This goes for the formal state system and regional units as well as organisations operating across national borders.

A region facing the West
In Kaliningrad you will find the most Western-oriented Russians, in a both geographic and mental sense of the word. 
A typical Russian has never been abroad whereas a typical citizen of Kaliningrad hardly ever goes to Great Russia but rather has a Schengen visa and travel on a regular basis to the neighbouring countries Poland or Lithuania.

“Kaliningrad is the perfect place to make contact with Russians, because this is where you find the Russians most familiar with us and most open to contact with the West. Particularly when it comes to journalists and media people, Kaliningrad is an interesting place due to its vibrant media setting with a lot of small independent media businesses,” says Uffe Gardel.

Kaliningrad is the perfect place to make contact with Russians, because this is where you find the Russians most familiar with us and most open to contact with the West

-Uffe Gardel

“Our hope is of course that this trip will lead to trans-border journalistic cooperation and at least provide Nordic journalists with substantial knowledge about Russia. But of course it’s up to each individual participant how they want to make use of these networking opportunities,” says Arne Grove.

Further information and registration: NJC study trip to Kaliningrad

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