Boris Nemtsov Forum

The idea behind the Boris Nemtsov Forum is to bring together a new generation of pro-democracy Russians and their Western peers to have meaningful discussions about Russia-related issues. The inaugural Forum was held in Berlin in 2016 and since then it has become the leading debate platform that attracts the most influential political and cultural figures. Among our guests were Alexei Navalny, Sergey Guriev, Francis Fukuyama, Adam Michnik, Greg Yudin, Maria Snegovaya, and Dmitry Glukhovsky. Traditionally, the event kicks off with Freedom Speech.

Key facts about the Nemtsov Forum

  • Initiated by the Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom established in 2015 in Germany
  • Held annually in early October in Central Europe around the anniversary of Boris Nemtsov’s birthday (09.10.1959)
  • Welcomes 300-400 participants from Russia, Europe, and the U.S.
  • Offers a variety of session styles, including debates, presentations, film screenings, and exhibitions
  • Conducted in Russian with simultaneous translation into English. 



This forum, held amidst an increasing government crackdown on critics of the ruling regime in Russia, focused on “fighting fear in Russia and beyond.” Forum participants discussed methods of promoting essential freedoms while combating the use of fear tactics and fear-based government propaganda. The various seminars, discussions, and programs fostered a sense of unity, helping the participants engage in meaningful dialogue. Major discussion topics included:

Fear, corruption, and propaganda vs. liberal democracy; Governance of fear – where is Russia heading?; Fear of war – What role civil society can play in conflict resolution?; Fear of little impact – experience from local governance; The Internet in Russia – Fear of freedom of speech; Free or fear – values in Russian society; Art and fear; Energy as political instrument of fear; Fear of unmaking national myths.

Key speakers: Zhanna Nemtsova (Boris Nemtsov Foundation), Sergey Guriev (Sciences Po), Alexey Navalny (Russian opposition leader), Paweł Rabiej (Deputy Mayor of Warsaw), Adam Michnik (Editor-in-Chief of Gazeta Wyborcza), Jacek Czaputowicz (Minister for Foreign Affairs, Poland), Vladimir Kara-Murza (Boris Nemtsov Foundation), Nikolai Petrov, (Chatham House, UK), Greg Yudin (Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences).

Speech on Freedom: Presented by prof. Francis Fukuyama (Stanford University)

More about Boris Nemtsov Forum 2019


In March 2018, Vladimir Putin was re-elected as President of the Russian Federation for another six-year term. The Boris Nemtsov Forum provided a space for politicians and other influential members of society to discuss and develop strategies for a liberal future at nine round-tables:

Which Role could Civil Society Institutions Play in Future Russia?; New Limits of Russian Energy Expansion; The Kremlin’s New Language; New Education for Global-Minded Russians; New Answers to Populism and Nationalism; War as a New Reality; European Integration of Russian Society; Visions for the Russian Opposition and its Prepositions; New Support from International Law. 

Key speakers: Tomas Kafka (Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic), Guy Verhofstadt (President of the ALDE Group in the EP), Sergey Aleksashenko (Former Deputy Minister of Finance of the Russian Federation, Brookings Institute, Washington), Flavia Kleiner  (Operation Libero, Zurich), Greg Yudin (Higher School of Economics, Moscow),  John Bogaerts (Division for Russia, European External Action Service, Brussels). 

Speech on Freedom: Presented by Archimandrite Cyril Govorun (Kiev, Ukraine)
• “New Impulses for Russian Civil Society Boris Nemtsov Forum 2018 discussed new strategies for Russian society“, Friedrich Naumann Stiftung

Film about Forum 2018 and interviews with key-speakers


This Forum’s goal was to enable young social advocates from Russia and the EU to discuss their utopian ideals — as well as practical solutions — for the society of the future. The format allowed all participants to voice their opinions at six workshops, including: “New Forms of Culture”, “New Economy”, “New Communication Channels”, “New Division Lines”, and “New World Order”. 

Key speakers:  Maria Snegovaya (Columbia University, New York), Christopher Gohl (Global Ethic Institute, Tübingen, Germany), Konstantin Kuhle (Young Liberals, Germany), Peter Limbourg (Director General, Deutsche Welle), Vladimir Kaminer (writer, Berlin), Dmitry Vrubel (artist, Berlin), Elena Panflova (Transparency International, Moscow Russia), Dmitry Ivanov- Kamikadze_dead (Blogger, Moscow), Stefan Melle (German-Russian Exchange, Berlin), Mikhail Savva (Civil Society and Human Rights Activist)

Speech on Freedom: Presented by Alisa Ganieva (writer, Moscow)


This forum reflected on the past 25 years of Russian-European dialogue since the fall of the Soviet Union. Discussion points included the expectations for future Russian-European dialogue and the desired results. The fall of the Soviet Union 25 years ago became the turning point for building new relationships between Russia and Europe that, after years of improvement, have hit a new low.

Key speakers: Elmar Brok (MEP), Jerzy Pomianovski (Executive Director, European Endowment for Democracy, Brussels), Mikhail Khodorkovsky (Open Russia Movement), Dmitry Oreshkin (political scientist, Russia), Liliya Shibanova (Russian electoral watchdog “Golos”), Lev Gudkov (Levada-center polling agency, Russia), Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger (ex-Minister of Justice, Germany), Jens Böhlmann (Eastern Сommittee of German Economy), Mikhail Shishkin (writer, Russia-Switzerland).

Speech on Freedom:  “Imperial Colony”, presented by Dmitry Glukhovsky (writer, Moscow)