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RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service: Radio Ozodlik

Radio Ozodlik relies on constant innovation and a wide network of local sources to uncover news and engage with audiences in one of the world’s most closed societies.

Fast Facts

  • Language: Uzbek
  • Established: 1953
  • Distribution: Radio (AM, SW, satellite), Internet (website, mobile, social media)
  • Coverage: Radio: 7.5 hours daily
  • Location: Prague
  • Staff: 10 in Prague, 10 stringers

Media Environment

  • Freedom House Freedom of the Press Index, 2016: Not Free (95th/100). Consistently ranked among Freedom House's "Worst of the Worst" repressive societies.
  • Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index, 2016: 166th/180.
  • All independent journalism is suppressed, and independent activists and government critics are subject to imprisonment, often on fabricated charges of “anti-state” activity and “extremism.”
  • Radio Ozodlik was forced by the Uzbek government to close its Tashkent bureau after reporting on the May 2005 massacre in Andijon and transferred its operations to Prague.
  • The Uzbek Service's website is accessible in Uzbekistan only through proxy software.


  • Despite government efforts to block it, Radio Ozodlik’s website is the most visited Uzbek language news-site, averaging over 2 million visits per month.
  • Radio Ozodlik circumvents government restrictions through the use of modern anti-censorship tools as well as a focus on mobile and social media platforms:
    • Ozodlik has the largest Uzbek audience on social networks with nearly 4 million views per month on YouTube, over 400 thousand followers on Odnoklassniki, and over 230 thousand fans on Facebook;
    • Radio Ozodlik was the first media to use WhatsApp and Telegram to generate and distribute the user content. It currently connects with more than 40 thousand people via these applications, who act as Ozodlik’s citizen journalists in all corners of Uzbekistan. This innovative approach to citizen journalism allowed Radio Ozodlik to produce exclusive and efficient countrywide coverage of Uzbekistan without a single reporter on the ground.
  • Radio Ozodlik has carried out in-depth investigations into corruption allegations involving President Islam Karimov's daughter Gulnara Karimova that led to an international criminal probe and the imprisonment of dozens of her associates, as well her own house arrest.
  • To expand its investigative journalism efforts in 2014, Radio Ozodlik started partnership with Sarajevo-based Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) that targets cases of corruption and money laundering that involve high-ranking Uzbek officials as well as working on “Panama papers”.
  • Ozodlik’s exclusive reporting on dozens of deaths due to children being forced to work in Uzbekistan’s cotton harvest helped to put international pressure on the government that resulted in school children being exempted from mandatory participation in the cotton harvest. During his visit in June 2015, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on President Karimov to give up forced labor.
  • Ongoing publicity and reports by Radio Ozodlik have led to the release of more than half a dozen human rights activists and journalists who were detained as political prisoners.
  • Ozodlik’s exposure of police brutality led to a number of dismissal of police officers.

Updated: 5 May 2016

Facts & Stats about Uzbekistan

  • Population: 30.76 million (World Bank estimate, 2014)
  • Most Common Languages: Uzbek, Russian, Tajik, Kazakh
  • Press Freedom Index (Freedom House): Not Free, ranked 95 out of 100 (2016)
  • Press Freedom Index (RSF): 166 out of 180 (2016)
  • Corruption Index (Transparency Int.): 153 out of 168 (2015)
  • Global Peace Index (IES): 109 out of 162 (2016)
  • Human Rights Watch: Report on Uzbekistan (2016)
  • Amnesty International: Uzbekistan Report (2015/2016)