Tuesday, August 04, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Amid the rise of Russian nationalism and expansionism over the last year, Radio Azatliq increased coverage of problems facing ethnic minorities, while official media outlets in the region continue to avoid the sensitive issue.
  • Radio Azatliq is the only media outlet to report independently on the situation in Russian-occupied Crimea where rights of the indigenous Crimean Tatar population are repeatedly violated. The struggles of Crimean Tatar activists are ignored by other media.

Updated: 9 June 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