Friday, November 27, 2015

RFE/RL's Radio Svoboda

Radio Svoboda is a multi-platform alternative to state-run media, providing audiences in and around the Russian Federation with timely and balanced news, analysis, and opinion.


Fast Facts

  • Language: Russian
  • Established: 1953
  • Distribution:  Radio (SW, satellite, Internet), Video (YouTube, Satellite), Internet (website, social), and Mobile
  • Coverage: Radio: 24 hours daily via Internet and satellite, 15 hours daily via SW
  • Locations: Prague, Moscow
  • Staff: 40 (Moscow), 29 (Prague), approx.100 stringers throughout Russia and the world
  • Affiliates: Radio: None in comparison to almost 30 in 2005, as a result of political pressure.


Media Environment

  • According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 36 journalists have been killed in Russia since 1992 in connection with their work.  Impunity usually protects those who perpetrate crimes against journalists and encourages abuses of the rights of media workers. New laws continually increase authorities’ right to police and prosecute content. Journalists have suffered physical attacks and recrimination for investigating Russian involvement in the fighting in Ukraine.
  • In May 2015, the Russian Duma passed a bill on “undesirable foreign organizations,” empowering prosecutors to restrict the activities of groups designated as threatening the Russian state. The law augments a 2012 law on “foreign agents” whose requirements have forced NGOs and media companies to limit their work or shut down entirely. 


  • The service’s website,, averages 15 million page views and over 7 million visits per month. Coverage of the Ukraine crisis and the consequences of foreign sanctions and the fall of the ruble increased traffic this year.
  • Radio Svoboda is increasingly popular on Russia’s leading social networks, including vKontakte, Surfingbird, SoundCloud, and Instagram. The Service actively engages with its audience on Facebook (360,000 followers), Twitter (134, 000 followers) and YouTube (50, 000 subscribers), and incorporates social media into all of its programming.
  • Popular new video and audio programs enlist prominent commentators and address current affairs.  "Déjà vu," hosted by Russian journalist Alexander Podrabinek, compares repressive tools used during the Soviet period and today. "Roads to Liberty," hosted by Kyiv-based political commentator Vitaly Portnikov, explores common issues facing Russia, Ukraine, and other post-Soviet countries. “Cult Of Personality” is a video talk show showcasing contemporary, independent voices. “Archeology,” a talk show featuring star moderator Sergei Medvedev, addresses social and cultural issues in Russia. ”Petersburg's Freedom,” hosted by Victor Rezunkov, looks at the country’s problems through the prism of St. Petersburg.
  • The service’s cartoonist, Sergei Yolkin, won a 2015 Communicator Award for "creative excellence" from the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts (AIVA).
  • In January 2014, the service published a dramatic multimedia project, “Sochi 2014: Outside the Arena,” that assessed the environmental, social, and human costs of the Sochi Winter Games.



Updated: 2 September 2015

Facts & Stats

143.5 million (World Bank estimate, 2013)

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

Press Freedom Index (Freedom House):
Not Free, ranked 181 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)