Thursday, August 28, 2014

RFE/RL's Uzbek Service

Radio Ozodlik relies on constant innovation and a wide network of local sources to inform and engage with audiences in one of the world’s most closed societies.

Fast Facts

  • Language: Uzbek
  • Established: 1953
  • Distribution: Radio (AM, SW, satellite), Internet (website, mobile, social media)
  • Coverage: Radio: 7.5 hours daily
  • Staff: 10 in Prague, 10 stringers

Media Environment

  • All independent journalism is suppressed, and independent activists and government critics are subject to imprisonment, often on fabricated charges of “anti-state” activity and “extremism.”
  • Radio Ozodlik was forced by the Uzbek government to close its Tashkent bureau after reporting on the May 2005 massacre in Andijon and transferred its operations to Prague.
  • The Uzbek Service's website is accessible in Uzbekistan only through proxy software.


  • Despite government efforts to block it, Radio Ozodlik’s website, is the most visited Uzbek language news-site, averaging over 500,000 visits per month.
  • Radio Ozodlik circumvents government restrictions through the use of modern anti-censorship tools as well as a focus on mobile and social media platforms such as YouTube, SoundCloud and social media.
  • Radio Ozodlik is at the forefront of the digital media revolution in Uzbekistan, integrating citizen journalism and social media as standard elements of its programming. In June 2012, Ozodlik pioneered a live online talk show between Tashkent and Prague via Facebook and Skype.
  • Working with Swedish journalists, Radio Ozodlik has carried out in-depth investigations into corruption allegations involving members of President Islam Karimov's family.
  • Following a December 2012 investigation into the Uzbek electricity utility’s failure to pay workers, hundreds of employees at one of Uzbekistan’s biggest power plants suddenly received three months of back pay. Workers at the plant sent Radio Ozodlik a letter of gratitude.
  • In late 2012, Radio Ozodlik aired exclusive reporting from inside Uzbekistan of the deplorable conditions faced by Uzbek teachers, nurses, students, and children forced by the government to pick cotton.
  • Ongoing publicity and reports by Radio Ozodlik have led to the release of more than half a dozen human rights activists and journalists who were detained as political prisoners.
  • Ozodlik’s coverage of the violent ethnic riots in southern Kyrgyzstan in June 2010 gave thousands of people access to the latest news and helped guide humanitarian assistance and aid to Uzbek refugees.

updated: 23 August 2013

Facts & Stats

29.78 million (World Bank estimate, 2012)

Most Common Languages:
Uzbek, Russian, Tajik, Kazakh

Press Freedom Index (Freedom House):
Not Free, ranked 195 out of 196 (2013)
"Worst of the Worst" (2012)

Press Freedom Index (RSF):
164 out of 179 (2013)
"Enemy of the Internet" (2012)

Corruption Index (Transparency Int.):
170 out of 174 (2013)

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

Human Rights Watch:
Report on Uzbekistan (2013)

Amnesty International:
Uzbekistan Report (2013)

Meet RFE/RL's Uzbekistan Service

RFE/RL journalist Alisher Sidikov talks with NATO officials in Strasbourg in 2009.

Service Snapshot: Alisher Sidikov

Alisher Sidikov and the rest of the team at Radio Ozodlik use citizen journalism to broadcast the news in Uzbekistan. More