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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 (SW, AM, satellite, Internet), Video (YouTube, satellite) and mobile
  • Coverage: Radio: 24 hours daily via Internet and satellite, 15 hours daily via SW, 7 hours daily via AM
  • Locations: Prague, Moscow
  • Staff: 40 (Moscow), 31 (Prague), approx. 100 stringers throughout Russia and the world.

Media Environment

  • Freedom House Freedom of the Press Index, 2016: Not Free (83rd/100)
  • Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index, 2016: 148th/180
  • 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 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 receives an average of 15.9 million page views and 7.5 million visits per month. The February 2015 assasination of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, Turkey’s downing of a Russian military plane in November 2015, and independent commentary on current events have been among the most viewed stories.
  • 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 is increasingly popular on Russia’s main social networks, including vKontakte, Telegram, and Instagram. The service actively engages with its audience on Facebook (430,000 followers), Twitter (180, 000 followers) and YouTube (85, 000 subscribers), and incorporates social media into all of its programming. Radio Svoboda’s SoundCloud page has passed the 2 million mark.
  • Popular new video 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.
  • Four documentaries produced by Russian Service colleagues qualified in different categories of the 2015 ArtDocFest, among Europe’s most prestigious documentary film festivals.

Updated: 12 May 2016

Facts & Stats about Russia

  • Population: 143.8 million (World Bank estimate, 2014)​
  • Most Common Languages: Russian, more than 100 minority languages of which 27 are considered official​
  • Press Freedom Index (Freedom House): Not Free, ranked 83 out of 100 (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 162 (2016)​
  • Human Rights Watch: Report on Russia (2016)​
  • Amnesty International: Russia Report (2015/2016)
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