Friday, November 27, 2015

RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service

Radio Azatliq, the only major international news provider in the Tatar and Bashkir languages, serves as a unique bridge between Tatar communities in Russia, Crimeaand the world.


Fast Facts

  • Languages: Tatar, Bashkir, Crimean Tatar
  • Established: 1953
  • Distribution: Internet (website, mobile, social media), Radio (satellite)
  • Coverage: Radio: 30 minutes daily via Internet and satellite
  • Locations: Prague
  • Staff: 6 (Prague), 20 stringers

Media Environment

  • Defamation was decriminalized in 2011, but many public officials have successfully initiated defamation cases to silence critics.
  • Since the start of Russian-Ukrainian crisis, the media environment has suffered from the rise of hostile anti-Western, especially anti-American sentiment, as all regional media have adopted the Kremlin’s isolationist and nationalistic approach.
  • Media outlets in Tatarstan and Bashkortostan face restrictions similar to those found elsewhere in Russia. Journalists and others who cover sensitive topics or question official policies risk imprisonment, and opposition websites are routinely shut down with little or no explanation. Charges of libel and “instigating extremism” are used to silence journalists and whistleblowers.



  • Radio Azatliq primarily operates online, using a wide range of platforms to inform and engage its audience. Azatliq is the most technologically advanced web source in the Tatar language.
  • In response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the Service has expanded its coverage of the deteriorating status of Crimean Tatars on the peninsula. In April 2015, Russian authorities halted broadcasts by RFE/RL affiliate Radio Meydan, which had earlier aired the Service’s programs in Crimean Tatar.
  • Radio Azatliq content is used to teach the Tatar language to students, due to the service’s modern use of the language, topical stories, and the combination of audio and video versions of reports.
  • The service host a Vaclav Havel Journalism Fellow in 2013-2014, to strengthen the service’s multi-media programming and expand its reporting of minority issues in Tatarstan.
  • In 2013, Radio Azadliq coverage of plans to close five Tatar-language and two Mari-language schools in Tatarstan generated public debate that persuaded authorities to keep the schools open.
  • In 2012, Radio Azatliq pioneered live-stream coverage of events in Tatarstan, reporting on protests and public gatherings that were ignored by other media.
  • Radio Azatliq’s website provides an informed, public platform for discussing sensitive issues such as Russia’s policies toward ethnic and religious minorities, centralization, corruption, the role of Islam in predominantly Muslim regions, Islam’s compatibility with Western values and institutions, and gender issues. Russian authorities monitor these discussions and have tried to interfere with them.

Updated: 19 August 2015


Facts & Stats


Press Freedom Index (Freedom House):
Not Free, ranked 180 out of 199 (2015)

Press Freedom Index (RSF):
152 out of 180 (2015)

Corruption Index (Transparency Int.):
136 out of 175 (2014)

Global Peace Index (IES):
152 out of 162 (2014)

Human Rights Watch:
Report on Russia (2015)

Amnesty International:
Russia Report (2014/2015)




3,786,488 (2010 census)
Most Common Languages:
Tatar, Russian



4,072,292 (2010 census)

Most Common Languages:
Russian, Tatar, Bashkir

Meet RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service

Rim Gilfanov, Director of RFE's Tatar-Bashkir Service.

Service Snapshots: Rim Gilfanov

Rim Gilfanov is the Director of RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service. We sat down with Rim to discuss his beginnings as a journalist. More