Home/Guidelines for the Boris Nemtsov fellowship program

Guidelines for the Boris Nemtsov fellowship program

Up to 31.03.2022

General provisions


The Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom gGmbH (hereinafter: “the Foundation”) is a tax-exempt public-benefit organisation pursuant to German law. One of its public-benefit purposes is the advancement of the relief for people persecuted on political, racial or religious grounds, for refugees etc. (section 52 para. 2 sentence 1 nr. 10 of the German General Tax Code – Abgabenordnung).


In accordance with section 2 para. 2 of the Articles of association, the Foundation grants fellowships to individuals who are persecuted for reason of their political persuasion or/and involved in various forms of assistance, either professional (lawyers, journalists, etc.) or non-professional (human rights defenders, activists, etc.) and, therefore, were forced to leave their home country.


The maximum duration of a fellowship is 6 months. The number of awarded fellowships depends on the available funds.


The fellowship award MUST NOT be the only source of income. The Foundation considers it as support to ensure that a fellow can go on with his/her activities in a peaceful surroundings and the award, combined with recipient’s other sources of income, approximates an individual current level of income to enable him or her to integrate and find a place in society. In order to achieve this, any fellowship is linked with the requirement to do some useful work which is covered by the Foundation´s public-benefit purposes.


Candidates who publicly express xenophobic ideas, support or justify violence in any form, deny holocaust or spread one-sided political agitation are not eligible for this fellowship program.


Political prisoner – an individual held in custody, on trial or sentenced to a term in prison who is recognized as such by international and national NGOs.

Political refugee – an individual who is recognized as a refugee within the meaning of the Geneva Refugee Convention and has, pursuant to German law, either official political asylum, national visa, residence permit or a citizenship of any other country. Those who applied for political asylum or for any other status are also eligible for the program.

Lawyers – professionals who render their services to individuals who are recognized as political prisoners by international and/or national NGOs.

Human rights defenders and activists – non-professional individuals who assist individuals who are arrested for political reasons. As they are not immediately recognized as prosecuted for political reasons we rely on general understanding of political prosecution provided by international law (The European Convention on Human rights).

Recipient – an individual who receives a fellowship award.

Announcement of the fellowship on the Internet – general call on the official webpage of the Foundation to submit applications for fellowships.


Applicants should submit the following documents:

  • Confirmation of an applicant’s legal status in the EU, non-EU country or the USA (copy of the political asylum document or confirmation of pending application to get a political asylum if a an applicant has not been rejected). In exceptional cases, the Foundation considers applications submitted by those who have a national visa or other document that confirms his/her permission to stay in a foreign country or by those who has no permission to stay in a country of residence;
  • Biography with detailed information on activities an applicant was engaged in his home country;
  • Two letters of recommendations. NGOs, prominent and respected human rights defenders or members of the Board of Trustees are entitled to submit their letters of recommendation.
  • Concept note (max. 1 page) describing planned project or/and research work under the Boris Nemtsov fellowship program. These project (s) or/and research work should be relevant and aimed at exploring current social problems and challenges in Russia, including trends in political prosecution that can take different forms as well as problems political refugees face in Europe. The final papers prepared by fellows may contain practical recommendations for politically prosecuted individuals, political refugees and European and American official institutions and NGOs working in the field of human rights protection.
  • The projects MUST BE in full compliance with goals of the Foundation stipulated by the Articles of Association (https://nemtsovfund.org/cp/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Boris-Nemtsov-Foundation-for-Freedom-gGmbH-Gesellschaftsvertrag.pdf );
  • Detailed timeline for the project (max. 1 page);
  • Permittance to the Foundation to publish the research work in total on the Foundation´s website or any other publication.
  • Description of applicant’s current situation (family, employment (if any), sources of income and its size).

Application process

Candidates can submit their applications via Foundation’s official website.

The final decision to award or to reject a fellowship is taken within one month upon submission of full application and required supporting documents. The Foundation has the right to require additional information regarding applicant’s biography, current circumstances and proposed project. In cases when more time is needed to check all the information submitted the Foundation can extend the period of application consideration for another month. The decision is taken by the Foundation’s management. In exceptional cases the management seeks advice of the Board of Trustees.

The Foundation’s decision is made in written form and subsequently sent to an applicant. Applicants are rejected due to the following reasons:

  • An applicant expressed publicly xenophobic ideas, supported or justified violence in any form, denied holocaust, attracted attention by uttering one-sided political agitation;
  • No recommendation letters are submitted or letters cannot be verified by the Foundation:
  • Biography is not consistent and factual information provided is not truthful;
  • Proposed project contradicts Foundation’s goal stipulated by the Articles of Association.
  • Applicable taxes

It is recipient’s personal responsibility to pay all applicable taxes in the country of residence related to receiving the fellowship award. The Foundation does not act as a tax agent for the recipient.

Termination of the fellowship prior to the expiry date of the Agreement

The Foundation has the right to terminate the Agreement with a fellow at any time prior to the expiration date of the Agreement and to reclaim any money paid if a recipient doesn’t fulfill his/her obligations stipulated by the Agreement.