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RFE/RL’s Russian Service: Radio Svoboda

Radio Svoboda is a multiplatform 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: Internet (website, social), Radio (AM, satellite, Internet), Video (YouTube, satellite) and mobile
  • Coverage: Radio: 24 hours daily via Internet and satellite, 7 hours daily via AM
  • Locations: Prague, Moscow
  • Staff: 55 (Moscow), 38 (Prague), approx. 100 stringers throughout Russia and the world.

Media Environment

  • Freedom House Freedom of the Press Rating, 2016: Not Free (176th/199).
  • Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index, 2016: 148th/180.
  • According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 56 journalists have been killed in Russia since 1992 in connection with their work. Impunity usually protects those who perpetrate crimes against journalists, and laws on extremism, “undesirable foreign organizations,” and “foreign agents” are used by authorities to police and prosecute the media and NGOs. Journalists have been targeted for investigating Russian involvement in the fighting in Ukraine.
  • Since June 2015, RFE/RL has been the target of no fewer than seven programs broadcast on Russian TV that have sought to discredit its content and portray its colleagues as spies.

Highlights

  • The service’s website, svoboda.org received an average of 15.9 million page views and 7.5 million visits per month in FY2016.
  • In 2015, Radio Svoboda was the second most-cited radio station in Russian social media, according to the Medialogia agency, right behind Ekho Moskvy.
  • Radio Svoboda actively engages with its audience on Facebook (520,000 followers), Twitter (245,000 followers) and YouTube (110,000 subscribers), and incorporates social media into all of its programming. It is is increasingly popular on Russia’s main social networks, including vKontakte, Telegram, Instagram. Listenership on SoundCloud page has passed the 2.5 million mark.
  • Radio Svoboda has expanded its video programming, enlisting prominent commentators and addressing current affairs. "Déjà vu," hosted by Russian journalist Alexander Podrabinek, compares official practices under 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. The video project “Signs of Life” documents the reality of modern Russia from the point of view of those actually living it.
  • The Russian Service targets youth audiences with shows such as “Born After the USSR,” which interprets post-Soviet practices of different generations, and the innovative news aggregation platform “Rus2Web,” which covers hot-button issues from Russian-language social networks.

Updated: 28 Decebmer 2016

Facts & Stats about Russia

  • Population: 144.09 million (World Bank estimate, 2015)​
  • 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 199 (2016)​
  • Press Freedom Index (RSF): 148 out of 180 (2016)​
  • Corruption Index (Transparency Int.): 119 out of 168 (2015)​
  • Global Peace Index (IES): 151 out of 163 (2016)​
  • Human Rights Watch: Report on Russia (2016)​
  • Amnesty International: Russia Report (2015/2016)
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