Sunday, March 01, 2015

RFE/RL's Turkmen Service

Radio Azatlyk provides Turkmen-speaking audiences with accurate, locally sourced information about themselves and their society that they need to know and which the official media does not provide.


Fast Facts

  • Language: Turkmen
  • Established: 1953
  • Distribution: Radio (SW, satellite), Internet (website, mobile, social media)
  • Coverage: Internet & satellite, 8 hours daily; SW, 1 hour daily
  • Locations: Prague
  • Staff: 5 (Prague), 12 stringers


Media Environment

  • RFE/RL has neither a bureau nor accredited journalists in Turkmenistan. Stringers and freelancers work under routine surveillance and, together with their families, are often subject to harassment and intimidation.
  • Radio Azatlyk's website is blocked, obliging visitors to use proxy servers to access the site.


  • Average monthly visits to Azatlyk’s webpage in 2013 rose 255% over the previous year.
  • Radio Azatlyk is the only international media company providing regular multi-media reporting from inside the country, with original video reporting and photojournalism.
  • Radio Azatlyk’s coverage of homelessness, housing conditions and travel restrictions on Turkmen citizens has prompted government action to improve facilities and social services. Its reporting on human rights cases has helped bring about the release of activists and journalists from prison, and its reporting on the busing of schoolchildren into cotton fields to help with the harvest helped convince government officials to return the children and their teachers to class.
  • Radio Azatlyk increasingly serves as a public broadcaster, compensating for the government’s silence on information relating to fundamental rights, laws, official programs and procedures:
In advance of the July 2013 suspension of the right to hold dual Turkmen-Russian citizenship, Azatlyk produced programming to respond to questions from ordinary people about their rights and options.

In the weeks before Turkmenistan introduced biometric passports in June 2013, Azatlyk ran an online, interactive project to address audiences’ concerns about the program’s requirements and procedures.

A 2012 Azatlyk program helped fill the gap in information about post-secondary schooling by researching and alerting students to educational opportunities abroad.


  • Dovletmyrat Yazkuliyev, who was imprisoned for his coverage for Radio Azatlyk of the Abadan explosion in 2011, won Human Rights Watch’s 2012 Hellman-Hammett award in recognition of sacrifices he made as a journalist in defense of free speech.

Updated: 10 January 2014


Facts & Stats

5.173 million (World Bank estimate, 2012)

Most Common Languages:
Turkmen, Russian, Uzbek

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

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

Corruption Index (Transparency Int.):
170 out of 174 (2012)

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

Human Rights Watch:
Report on Turkmenistan (2013)

Amnesty International:
Turkmenistan Report (2013)