Alex Berezhnoi

Community Director @ Effective Altruism Anywhere
474St Petersburg, RussiaJoined Nov 2018

Bio

Participation
1

I run EA Anywhere, a virtual group for people who don't have local groups nearby.

I am a co-founder of EA Russia and have been involved in community building for the last three years. I contributed to several EA organizations as a research intern, created a Youtube channel with EA-related videos, and studied the MIT Micromasters program on global health and development policy.

I'd be happy to chat about EA or introduce you to the EA Anywhere group:

https://calendly.com/alexberezhnoi

https://www.linkedin.com/in/abspace

Comments
20

Thanks for pointing this out, Andy! I've updated the post. The application deadline is October 19th.

The deadline is 8:00 UTC on 19 October.

(I added this to the event description)

Thanks, Kirsten! We will announce a tentative agenda in 2-3 weeks.

Thanks for sharing the review, Ozy. I picked the movie for a watch party and everyone loved it! It touches on so many topics relevant to EA, definitely worth watching. And it aged really well, some scenes are very sweet and touching.

Recently someone asked me to comment on an article "Want to hurt Putin? Back a brain drain from Russia". It's a slightly edited version of my response.

From a personal perspective, I would be happy to support refugee quotas or immigration quotas for Russian in Europe or the US. One of the EAs from Russia even wrote a post on that. Right now, it's even more challenging to get a visa to Europe if you have a Russian passport than before the war. Baltic states stopped issuing tourist visas for Russian, and Norway stopped issuing residential visas. I've been waiting for a UK visa for two months to attend EA Global and didn't get it, probably due to rising concerns about issuing visas to Russian citizens. I'm not mentioning that it's problematic even to pay a visa fee right now, because Visa/Mastercard stopped working in Russia.

But from a big-picture perspective, I don't think the goals described in the article would be met by this kind of action:

  • The role of the IT sector in Russian GDP is negligible, ~1%. Putin relies on the army, repression mechanisms, and oil exports. Not on well-educated tech industry workers who can relocate and be welcomed in the West.
  • The state made multiple announcements that society is "cleaning itself" from traitors with Western values, who are relocating abroad right now. So Putin is even happy that these high-skilled people are leaving the country. Because it's the same people who support independent media, join street protests, and ask for change. He doesn't care about decreasing GDP, he cares about staying in charge. 
  • Almost everyone who is working for the military is banned from traveling abroad. They can do it only 3-5 years after dismissal. Keep in mind that after 22 years of Putin's regime the militaries are pretty loyal due to the negative selection processes.

For the majority of my Russian friends, Meduza is the main news source. It's more than a news aggregator. They release a lot of exclusive content, podcasts, interviews, newsletter, and FAQs on the most important topics. They also do fact-checking and have inside sources within the government. 

In recent days most of the independent media operated from Russia were blocked (e.g., TV Rain channel, Echo of Moscow radio station). There are almost no "other sources" left. And most important, the Russian government can't threaten the editors, because Meduza is based in Riga, Latvia. Even if it gets blocked in Russia, it will be still accessible through their app or VPNs.

They have an English edition too, here're some examples of their recent journalism that I recommend:

Unfortunately, TV Rain website was blocked a few days ago by the Russian government and they suspended all the broadcasting. They operated from Moscow and risks of repressions for them were really high.

I would say that Meduza is the main independent news source in Russia right now. They can experience funding gaps because a lot of Russian citizens won't be able to make donations with their bank cards because of sanctions. Thanks for your donations!

Advocate for introducing strict sanctions against Putin's friends and Kremlin-linked Russian oligarchs. That's what Navalny has been talking about for many years: "There is no sense to sanction generals who are definitely not traveling a lot or have bank accounts in Europe".

My intuition is that Putin doesn't care much about money anymore and he's more concerned about impacting history, but his surroundings do care about their property and bank accounts. 

Support free press and non-profits combating political persecution in Russia. Russian propaganda works well and poisons western media as well as local people's minds. People in Russia should have access to trustworthy sources of information. Those who aren't scared to express their opinions in public should have access to legal assistance: today 1700 people involved in street protests against the war were arrested.

Personally, I donate to Meduza (Russian online newspaper and news aggregator) and OVD-Info (human rights service). Both of them have been labeled as "foreign agents" in Russia.

Here's a preliminary schedule for the event:

  1. Ben Williamson - Effective Self-Help. Strategies for more effective behavior change
  2. Madhu Sriram - Behind-the-scenes work involved in running a chapter of a nonprofit
  3. Simon Newstead - How to become an impact investor
  4. Thomas Francine - How Skinny Dip Day helps to raise money for Fistula Foundation
  5. Harrison Durland - The potential value of “epistemic mapping” for metascience/meta-research
  6. Mike Pool - A strength-building exercise routine and diet
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