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RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service: Radio Svoboda

Radio Svoboda is a leader in providing audiences with informed and balanced reporting about local news, regional politics, and issues of global concern.

Fast Facts

  • Language: Ukrainian, Russian, Crimean Tatar
  • Established: 1954
  • Distribution: Internet (website, YouTube, social media), mobile, TV (national and regional channels in Ukraine), Radio (FM, UKW, cable, satellite)
  • Coverage: Radio: 19 hours 37 minutes, TV: 4 hours 25 minutes, live streams of current events
  • Location: Prague, Kyiv
  • Staff: 9 (Prague), 30 (Kyiv), dozens of stringers in Kyiv, Crimea, eastern Ukraine, and European capitals, including Brussels, London, and Warsaw

Media Environment

  • Freedom House Freedom of the Press Index, 2016: Partly Free: 53rdh/100
  • Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index, 2016: 107th/180
  • Problematic media practices in Ukraine include slanted news coverage by media owned by the oligarchs or via shadow schemes and self-censorship. Authorities promote creating a national public broadcaster, which is a positive development.
  • According to the Institute of Mass Information, during 2015 there were 58 assaults on journalists and two killings, a significant decrease from previous years. There were multiple reported attacks on journalists investigating corruption.
  • In annexed Crimea, the Russian authorities have significantly restricted freedom of speech and the press. Separatists in eastern Ukraine have harassed and arbitrarily detained journalists, while the population has limited access to information from Ukraine, with many sites, including Radio Svoboda, banned by some providers on the demand of local authorities.


  • The service’s popular investigative anti-corruption TV program “Schemes” reports on the luxurious lifestyle of Ukraine’s political elites, including Traffic Police Chief Oleksandr Yershov, who resigned within hours of the airing of the show on his activities in May 2015. Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau is now reviewing materials gathered by the RFE/RL investigative team on 15 cases.
  • Since September 2015 and February 2016 the Ukrainian Service has been broadcasting to the annexed Crimea (on AM) and to the parts of separatists-controlled Donbas (on FM).
  • Immediately following the Russian annexation of Crimea in March 2014, RFE/RL launched a website dedicated to developments in Crimea in three languages--Russian, Ukrainian, and Crimean Tatar. It was named the second most quoted news resource in Crimea in 2015 by the Russian research company “Medialogiya”.
  • The Service has expanded rapidly into video and television production, producing dedicated television shows on the developments in Crimea and Donbas. Broadcast partners include “Espreso TV,” “News Channel 24,” and many regional channels. Since January 2016 Radio Svoboda has been contributing to the leading Ukrainian TV channel 1+1 with reports from Brussels.
  • Radio Svoboda has more than 400,000 followers on Facebook and nearly 415,000 followers on Twitter.
  • In 2015, the service’s websites drew 18.7 million unique visitors and 122.7 million page views.

Updated: 22 April 2016

Facts & Stats about Ukraine

  • Population: 45.36 million (World Bank estimate, 2014)
  • Most Common Languages: Ukrainian, Russian, Crimean Tartar, Yiddish
  • Press Freedom Index (Freedom House): Partly Free, ranked 53 out of 100 (2016)​
  • Crimea--Not Free, ranked 94 out of 100 (2016)
  • Press Freedom Index (RSF): 107 out of 180 (2016)
  • Corruption Index (Transparency Int.): 130 out of 168 (2015)
  • Global Peace Index (IES): 156 out of 162 (2016)
  • Human Rights Watch: Report on Ukraine (2016)
  • Amnesty International: Ukraine Report (2015/2016)