Sunday, March 29, 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 Russia’s Tatar communities and the world.


Fast Facts

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

Media Environment

  • Media outlets in Tatarstan and Bashkortostan face similar restrictions to those that exist elsewhere in Russia. Journalists, activists, and others who oppose the official policies of the two republics risk imprisonment, while opposition websites are routinely shut down with little or no explanation. Charges of libel and “instigating extremism” are often used to silence journalists and whistleblowers.
  • Defamation was decriminalized in 2011, but many public officials have successfully initiated defamation cases to silence critics.


  • Radio Azatliq primarily operates online, using a wide range of formats to inform and engage with its audience. Azatliq is the most technologically advanced, state-of-the-art web source in Tatar.
  • In response to Russia's annexation of Crimea, the Service is expanding programming in the Crimean Tatar language, which it began in the 1960s.
  • Radio Azatliq content is used to teach Tatar to students due to the modern use of the Tatar language, topical stories, and the combination of audio and video versions of reports.
  • The service was selected to host a Vaclav Havel Journalism Fellow for 2013-2014 to strengthen the service’s multi-media programming and expand its reporting of minority issues in Tatarstan.
  • In early 2013, Radio Azadliq coverage of the proposed closure of five Tatar-language and two Mari-language schools in Tatarstan helped convince local authorities to keep the schools open.
  • In 2012, Radio Azatliq aired live content streams from events in Tatarstan that are routinely ignored by other media, such as street protests by the opposition and public gatherings of Tatar organizations.
  • Radio Azatliq’s website is a platform for virtual meetings where participants discuss issues such as Russia’s policy toward ethnic and religious minorities, centralization, corruption, the role of Islam in predominantly Muslim regions, Islam’s compatibility with Western values, and gender issues. Russian authorities monitor these discussions and occasionally try to interfere with them.
  • The Tatar-Bashkir Service has produced broadcasts in the endangered Crimean Tatar language since the 1960s. Programs in Crimean Tatar air twice weekly and are retransmitted into Crimea.
  • In April 2010, Radio Azatliq was recognized by the Turkic Arts and Culture Organization for its outstanding continued coverage of Turkic art, culture, history, language and people.

Updated: 25 March 2014

Facts & Stats


Press Freedom Index (Freedom House):
Not Free, ranked 176 out of 197 (2014)

Press Freedom Index (RSF):
148 out of 180 (2014)

Corruption Index (Transparency Int.):
133 out of 183 (2012)

Global Peace Index (IES):
155 out of 162 (2013)

Human Rights Watch:
Report on Russia (2012)

Amnesty International:
Russia Report (2012)




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