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RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service: Radio Azattyq

Radio Azattyq makes a difference in people's lives by providing a platform for audiences in Kazakhstan to share ideas and learn how free media works.

Fast Facts

  • Language: Kazakh, Russian
  • Established: 1953
  • Coverage: Internet (website, mobile, social media)
  • Locations: Prague, Almaty, Astana
  • Staff: 6 (Prague), 12 (Almaty), 2 (Astana), 39 stringers

Media Environment

  • Freedom House Freedom of the Press Ranking, 2016: Not Free (181st/199).
  • Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index, 2016: 160th/180.
  • Privately-held and opposition media are subject to harassment and censorship.
  • Criticizing the president is a criminal offense and is used as a pretext to silence journalists. An analysis done by media freedom group Article 19 found that Kazakhstan’s civil law regime “fails to provide safeguards for free expression and meet international defamation standards.”
  • In 2014, repressive amendments on mass media were added to the Criminal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure, and the Administrative Offences Code. These amendments entered into force on January 1, 2015.


  • The Kazakh Service has migrated fully to digital distribution, producing multimedia content for its Kazakh and Russian language website, mobile and social media sites and branded YouTube page.
  • The Service has broken several major stories:
    • In March 2016, the Kazakh Service provided special coverage of Kazakhstan's early parliamentary election, with about six hours of live-streamed video on website, Facebook live streaming and Periscope, and live blogging on its websites.
    • In November 2015, Kazakh service won the second place in "Best bilingual website" nomination of, the main national award for best websites in Kazakhstan. The service already was the winner of in 2008 on two nominations - "Best site in state language" and "Mass Media."
    • In March 2015, access to the entire "Latest News" section of both the Kazakh and Russian sections of Radio Azattyq’s website was partly blocked by authorities in Kazakhstan after the Service reported about a video showing Kazakh militants calling for others to join the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria. While previous reports by Radio Azattyq on Kazakh militants in Syria have also been blocked in Kazakhstan, this was the first time that the entire "Latest News" sections of both websites have been taken offline. Radio Azattyq is also the only media to identify several “Kazakh jihadists” who are now fighting in Syria and Iraq.
    • In March 2016, Kazakh service presented its investigative TV documentary on mass poisoning of children in northwestern Kazakhstan village of Berezovka. November 2014, a Kazakh Service reporter was the only journalist to report on how 19 children and three teachers “almost simultaneously…lost consciousness” in Berezovka.
    • In September 2015, Azattyq's exclusive report about newly published textbooks for schools describing Crimea as a part of Russia sparked bid diplomatic scandal. Ukraine had demanded an explanation from the Kazakh government in diplomatic note. Kazakh authorities had "acknowledged publishing house's mistake" and promised to publish new books.
    • In December 2015, Azattyq's dramatic video on demolishing the house of one desperate family in Astana, who was not satisfied with proposed compensation for their house, had created a huge discussion in social media. People demanded to stop the demolishing and the family still lives in it.

Updated: 28 December 2016

Facts & Stats about Kazakhstan

Population: 17.5 million (World Bank estimate, 2015)
Most Common Languages: Russian, Kazakh, Ukranian, Uyghur, German
Press Freedom Index (Freedom House): Not Free, ranked 181 out of 199 (2016)
Press Freedom Index (RSF): 160 out of 180 (2016)
Corruption Index (Transparency Int.): 123 out of 168 (2015)
Global Peace Index (IES): 75 out of 163 (2016)
Human Rights Watch: Report on Kazakhstan (2016)
Amnesty International: Kazakhstan Report (2015/2016)