Yana Buhrer Tavanier

Yana Buhrer Tavanier is a freelance journalist and a human rights activist based in Sofia, Bulgaria. Previously she was editor of weekly Capital, and worked as a journalist for Tema magazine and daily Dnevnik.


Yana is also author of the publications 'Press coverage of drug-related topics' (Addicted2Life Project, 2010),  ‘Reporting Diversity, a Guide for Journalists’ (British Council; 2008), and co-author of the ‘Human Development Report’ (UNDP Bulgaria; 2006). She directed a couple of documentary films: one about racism towards Africans in Bulgaria called ‘Black in White’ (2007), and one about people with intellectual and mental health disabilities in Bulgaria, called "Seeing You" (2011).Yana is a winner of many prestigious awards, including the award for best investigative article (co-established by The Guardian Foundation, London; 2005).

In 2009 Yana was awarded with the third prize at the end of the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence annual programme for the article “Institutions Remain Dumping Grounds for Forgotten People”. Yana investigated conditions in mental institutions in the Balkans. She was looking at the case of Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia and revealed how mentally-disabled people are treated and what the common problems are in these countries.

Currently, Yana is the Campaign Director of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, the country's most influential human rights group. She designs and implements various human rights campaigns. She is co-organiser of the annual Sofia Pride. She is also the co-founder of the first platform for volunteering in Bulgaria: http://timeheroes.org/

In 2011 Yana was selected as a TED Global Fellow (http://www.ted.com/fellows). In 2012 she was featured in WIRED Magazine's Smart List as one of the '50 people who will change the world' (http://www.wired.co.uk/magazine/archive/2012/02/features/the-smart-list). That same year she was named a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Fellow (http://www.weforum.org/community/forum-young-global-leaders).

Fellowship Portfolio

Institutions Remain Dumping Grounds for Forgotten People

Reform is coming too slowly to institutions for adults with intellectual and mental health disabilities in Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia, where chronic neglect, filthy conditions, and the use of physical restraints and high-dosage drugs to control behaviour remain routine.

The Alumni Network

What is the Alumni Network?

The Alumni Network is an ever-expanding group of journalists who have all participated in the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence.


Turkey and the Balkans

The re-emergence of Turkey as a growing economic, political and religious power in the Balkans is the subject of the latest Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence Alumni Initiative project.

Roma Decade

Twelve countries, including several Balkan states, have signed up to the European Roma Decade 2005-2015 initiative. Halfway through the decade, has any real progress been made?