Accessibility links

RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service

RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service reports the news in one of the most violent and dangerous regions in the world, where media freedom and journalists remain under severe threat.

Fast Facts

  • Language: Chechen
  • Established: 2002
  • Distribution: Radio 7 hours per week (SW, satellite), Internet (3 websites, social media)
  • Location: Prague
  • Staff: 8 (Prague), 15 stringers

Media Environment

  • Freedom House Freedom of the Press Index, 2016: Not Free (83rd/100)
  • Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index, 2016: 148th/180
  • Media outlets in the North Caucasus face the same limitations as those elsewhere in Russia, with the additional hazard of being located in one of the most violent and dangerous regions in the world. Assassinations and bombings by both Islamist rebels and Russian security forces are common, and anyone viewed as a potential threat can be imprisoned.
  • Defamation was decriminalized in 2011, but many public officials have successfully initiated defamation cases and severe punishments are imposed.
  • Due to security conditions for unsanctioned media, RFE/RL is unable to operate a local bureau in the North Caucasus region.


  • The service is the only international broadcaster to provide objective news and analysis to the North Caucasus in Chechen, Circassian, and Avar. Broadcasting in all three languages puts the Service in a unique position to report on news between the regions.
  • The service is the only Chechen media outlet to provide in-depth coverage of human rights abuses by the police and security forces and social taboos.
  • In December 2015, the service posted an angry audio message recorded by Chechen social worker, Ayshat Inayeva, about Ramzan Kadyrov forcing normal Chechens to pay part of their salaries each month as collateral toward their utility bills. The next day, the Chechen leader forced Ms. Inayeva to appear on live TV along with her husband so he could berate her for her criticism. Kadyrov's public shaming of an ordinary Chechen woman angered Chechen émigrés in Europe. Protest rallies took place in Vienna and Oslo both of which were covered by RFE/RL.
  • In early 2015, as a step toward preserving Chechnya’s literary heritage, the North Caucasus Service launched an online library available for free to users with both text and audio versions of classics selected from Chechen poetry and prose, as well as works from contemporary authors.
  • The service was among the first to tell the story of Chechens fighting on both sides of the war in Ukraine.

Updated: 11 April 2016

Facts & Stats about Russia

  • 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)

Facts & Stats about Chechnya

  • Population: 1,268,989 (2010 census)
  • Ethnic Groups: Chechen, Russian, others
  • Religions: Sunni Muslim, Eastern Orthodox
  • Languages: Chechen, Russian, others

Facts & Stats about Dagestan

  • Population: 2,910,249 (2010 census)
  • Ethnic Groups:Northeast Caucasians (Avar, Dargin, Lezgin, others); Turkic and others (Kumyk, Nogai, Azeri, and others); Russian
  • Religions: Sunni Muslim, Eastern Orthodox
  • Languages: Russian, over 30 others (11 indigenous)

Facts & Stats about Ingushetia

  • Population: 412,529 (2010 census)
  • Ethnic Groups: Ingush, Chechen, Russian, other
  • Religions: Sunni Muslim, Eastern Orthodox
  • Langagues: Ingush, Russian

Facts & Stats about Kabardino-Balkaria

  • Population: 859,939 (2010 census)
  • Ethnic Groups: Kabardin, Russian, Balkar, other
  • Religions: Sunni Muslim, Eastern Orthodox
  • Languages: Kabardin, Balkar, Russian

Facts & Stats about Karachay-Cherkessia

  • Population: 477,859 (2010 census)
  • Ethnic Groups: Karachai, Russian, Cherkess, Abazin, Nogai, other
  • Religions: Sunni Muslim, Eastern Orthodox
  • Languages: Karachai, Cherkess, Russian, others​