Tuesday, March 31, 2015

RFE/RL's Radio Svoboda

Radio Svoboda is the leading international broadcaster in Russia and a leading locally-based alternative to state-controlled media. Radio Svoboda is an innovative, multi-media provider of accurate, independent and wide-ranging news and analysis.


Fast Facts

  • Language: Russian
  • Established: 1953
  • Distribution:  Radio (SW, cable, satellite; limited FM-see "Affiliates"), Internet (website, mobile, YouTube, social media)
  • Coverage: Radio: 24 hours daily via Internet and satellite, 15 hours daily via SW
  • Locations: Prague headquarters, Moscow
  • Staff: 37 (Moscow), 27 (Prague), approx.100 stringers throughout Russia and the world
  • Affiliates: Radio Svoboda had almost 30 local affiliates in 2005; virtually all have stopped carrying its programs as a result of political pressure


Media Environment

  • Defamation was decriminalized in 2011, but many public officials have successfully initiated defamation cases and severe punishments are imposed.
  • Russia continues to be one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists has documented 36 murders of journalists in Russia since 1992; of these, 16 remain unsolved. Violent attacks against journalists are frequent and brutal.


  • In 2012, the Russian Service focused on providing more live video streams from events as well as providing locally-unique reporting, including live-streamed coverage of the May 2012 “March of Millions” in Moscow. At any given point during the protest, more than 14,000 people were watching it live on Radio Svoboda’s website.
  • An early 2012 Radio Svoboda investigative report on how government supporters paid people to attend pro-Putin rallies was viewed by more than 225,000 and went viral on social networks.
  • Radio Svoboda is increasingly popular on Russian social networking sites such as vKontakte, Surfingbird, YouTube and Instagram. The Service actively engages with its audience on Facebook, Twitter, and online comment forums.
  • Radio Svoboda has led coverage of some of Russia’s most consequential stories over the last several years, including the imprisonment and trials of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the death in prison of Sergei Magnitsky, the emergence of the Khimki forest environmental movement and the mobilization of Russian popular protests since December 2011 -- including the trials of participants in the massive May 2012 protests on Moscow's Bolotnaya Square and the campaign against NGOs that began in January 2013.

updated: 10 January 2014

Facts & Stats

143.5 million (World Bank estimate, 2012)

Most Common Languages:
Russian, more than 100 minority languages of which 27 are considered official

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 (2013)

Amnesty International:
Russia Report (2013)