Thursday, December 25, 2014

RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service

In an environment of total government control over national media, Radio Azadliq has built a solid reputation as one of the only independent outlets in Azerbaijan.

Fast Facts

  • Language: Azerbaijani
  • Established: 1953
  • Distribution: Radio (satellite), Satellite TV (Hotbird, Turksat); Internet (Azeri/Russian website, mobile, YouTube), social media, weekly newspaper
  • Coverage: Radio: 30-32 hours per week original, 40 hours repeat.
  • Locations: Prague, Baku
  • Staff: 6 (Prague), 14 (Baku), 21 stringers

Media Environment

    • The government of Azerbaijan jails journalists and heavily censors all media. Since December 2008, all international broadcasters including Radio Azadliq, the BBC and Voice of America are banned from broadcasting on local FM and MW frequencies.
    • In June 2013 Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev signed a law criminalizing online activism.


    • In 2012, the service’s website,, won MilliNet, Azerbaijan’s most prestigious Internet prize award, as the country’s best news website.
    • Radio Azadliq’s “Korrupsiometr” web portal features the latest laws and regulations, Azeri lawyers responding to audience questions, and serves as a forum for people impacted by corruption.
    • Radio Azadliq’s investigative reports on Azeri ministers' family businesses and offshore account holders linked to President Ilham Aliyev’s family were widely cited by major US and UK media.
    • A January 2012 expose featuring video of traffic policemen openly soliciting bribes in central Baku went viral on Radio Azadliq’s website, and led to the police officers being thrown off the force.
    • With support from the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX), Radio Azadliq carried out a special anticorruption in 2012 that led to open discussions between the government, media, and NGOs on topics of transparency and public accountability.
    • Radio Azadliq’s award-winning satire program “250plyus,” one of the Service's most popular programs, is actively shared over social networks.
    • Usage of Radio Azadliq YouTube content jumped 100-fold in 2012 after the Service launched a weekly TV program on the Turksat satellite and daily live video streams on YouTube and its website.
    • In February 2013, Radio Azadliq (with IREX support) launched a web portal, "Liberty in Regions," that allowed it to expand its regional network of freelancers.
    • Radio Azadliq investigative reporter Khadija Ismayilova was awarded the 2012 ”Courage in Journalism” prize by the International Women’s Media Foundation.
    • Azerbaijani journalist Eynulla Fatullayev, released from prison in May 2011, said in his first post-release interview, “I love Radio Azadliq. You’re one of those who saved my life.”

    updated: 20 May 2013

Facts & Stats

9.298 million (World Bank estimate, 2012)

Most Common Languages:
Azeri, Armenian, Russian, Lezgi, 

Press Freedom Index (Freedom House):
Not Free, ranked 177 out of 197 (2013)

Press Freedom Index (RSF):
156 out of 179 (2013)

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

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

Human Rights Watch:
Report on Azerbaijan (2013)

Amnesty International:
Azerbaijan Report (2013)

Meet RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service

Vusala Alibayli poses for a mugshot.

Service Snapshot: Vusala Alibayli

RFE profiles Vusala Alibayli, host of "250 Seconds+", a popular satire show produced by RFE's Azerbaijani Service. More