we Are

StraightForward Foundation is a European non-profit organization supporting uncensored documentary projects about Russia. Currently, SFF operates in two directions:

we help conceive and write non-fiction books that depict what is happening in contemporary Russia and how it became possible;

we ensure these books reach the international market and are published in various languages.


We only take on projects that are impossible to release in Russia due to repressive laws and military censorship. As of 2024, independent writers and journalists are perceived in Russia as foreign agents, and their books are confiscated from stores and libraries. Human rights, the war in Ukraine, corruption, abuses of power, oppression of minorities and political history are all topics that are currently tightly controlled by officials and law enforcement. Publishing a truthful book on any of these topics in Russia means risking one's own safety and freedom. We help books find readers bypassing censorship.

How We Work

We collect applications from anyone interested in creating a non-fiction book that can help understand what is happening in Russia. You can fill out such an application here. (In Russian)

The foundation's Editorial Team selects the most compelling applications, based on a combination of criteria (relevance of the idea, clarity of the proposed structure, availability of materials for the book, author's experience and style, production deadlines, etc.).

The Editorial Board reviews selected applications and makes a final decision on their support by the foundation.

If an application is approved, we provide authors with a grant and editorial support.

Through collaborative efforts, we turn an application into a finished book.

We help authors to find publishers for the manuscript in different languages and to negotiate with them.

Currently, we only support non-fiction literature.

The process

All proceeds from book publications go to their authors, who also retain all rights to the manuscripts. In Russia, all our books will be available for free, and we will use all possible means to reach readers there.

A grant for book creation

An editor who can accompany the author from the inception of the idea

A fact-checker (in collaboration with Provereno.Media)

A fact-checker (in collaboration with Provereno.Media)

Assistance in negotiations with publishers

Assistance in book promotion

Our Funding

All proceeds from book publications go to their authors, who also retain all rights to the manuscripts. In Russia, all our books will be available for free, and we will use all possible means to reach readers there.

We are a non-profit organization and operate through donations and institutional support.

If you would like to donate money to the activities of the StraightForward Foundation, please contact us or visit our donation page.

we are

StraightForward Foundation is a team of journalists, publishers, and editors with extensive experience in creating books, podcasts, films, and other documentary projects that resonate with hundreds of thousands of people. Experts from six countries assist in selecting projects for StraightForward Foundation: sociologists, journalists, human rights activists, literary agents, and writers.



Former editor-in-chief of the publishing house Individuum, which raised a bar for nonfiction writing on current affairs in Russian.  Individuum covered the topics of organised crime, cyber warfare, structural inequality, mafia state, women's rights etc. Sandalov is a laureate of the Andrei Bely Prize for his book Formation: The History of One Scene.

Aleksandr Gorbachev

Journalist, editor, screenwriter. A graduate of the University of Missouri (MA in Journalism, as a Fulbright fellow). Author of several books on the history of post-Soviet rock and pop music, editor of several bestseller non-fiction books, notably by Daniil Turovsky and Sasha Sulim. Former editor-in-chief of Afisha magazine, former deputy editor-in-chief of Meduza, former editor of Holod Media.


Publisher, editor, producer. Founder and former managing partner of the publishing houses Individuum and Popcorn Books, director of marketing and content at Bookmate service.

The Editorial Board

Polina Aronson

Sociologist of emotions, journalist and former editor of Dekoder, an online magazine that translates and explains articles from critical Russian and Belarusian media. She graduated from the PhD program at Warwick University (UK). She has participated in research projects at the Charité University Hospital (Berlin), the German Institute for Human Rights (Deutsches Institut für Menschenrechte, Berlin), Ben-Gurion University (Israel). Aronson is the author of two books released in Russian (Love:DIY, 2020, and Complex Feelings, 2021).


Poet, prize-winning prose writer, translator and comic artist. Since April 2024, she has published numerous editions of the online magazine ROAR - Resistance and Opposition Art Review (formerly Russian Oppositional Arts Review). Goralik is also a prominent marketing consultant and PR-specialist

Thomas Martin

Playwright, author, former editor of the magazine Sklaven and translator from Russian to German. From 2010 to 2017 he was in charge of dramaturgy at the Volksbühne at Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz and edited the online column Denkzeichen there. He edited and gathered materials for the book Everything is Allowed: The Karamazov Law (2016), and together with Irina Rastorgueva  translated works of dissident Soviet author Georgy Demidow to German.

Manfred Sapper

Historian, political scientist, and author. Studied political science, history and sociology in Frankfurt, Siena and Moscow and completed his doctorate with a thesis on the impact of the war in Afghanistan on Soviet society. He is an editor-in-chief of the interdisciplinary journal Osteuropa and an expert on Eastern European current affairs.

Elisabeth SchimpFöSSl

Sociologist at Aston University in Birmingham. Her research topics include studying the sociology of elites, power and social inequality, and secondly comparative research into media and journalism in post-communist Europe. Her book, Rich Russians: from Oligarchs to Bourgeoisie, was published by Oxford University Press in 2018 and translated to Russian in 2022.

Maria Schliesser

Literary agent representing the interests of German publishers on the international book market, including Russia, as well as selling translation rights for authors from Ukraine, Belarus and Russia to German publishing houses.


Journalist, human rights activist and editor-in-chief of Mediazona, a well-known independent publication that covers the work of the justice system in Russia, doing stories on trials, the work of law enforcement agencies and the penitentiary system. In 2018 Mediazona was awarded the Free Media Awards prize by German foundation Zeit-Stiftung and Norwegian NGO Fritt Ord, for advocating for the freedom of speech.

*Three experts of our Board requested to remain anonymous. Members of the Editorial Team are also members of the Board.