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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 Ranking, 2016: Ukraine--Partly Free (112th/199); Crimea--Not Free (195th/199).
  • Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index, 2016: 107th/180
  • Most of Ukraine’s media is owned by oligarchs, a practice that affects advertising and editorial policies, as well as journalistic practices, including requiring journalists to self-censor. There is some official support for the creation of an independent, national public broadcaster.
  • There were 58 assaults on journalists and two killings documented in 2015, a significant decrease from previous years.
  • Journalists investigating corruption, including members of RFE/RL’s investigative program “Schemes,” have been subject to physical attacks and threats.
  • Independent media in Russian-annexed Crimea are subject to intimidation, interrogations, and persecution under restrictive Russian laws, including the law on extremism. Krym.Realii, RFE/RL’s website for Crimea, has been repeatedly blocked, most recently in August 2016.
  • In eastern Ukraine, separatists have harassed and arbitrarily detained journalists, while blocking citizens’ access to independent information and news. Radio Svoboda’s website is one of many that has been banned by some providers on the demand of local authorities.


  • Radio Svoboda’s investigative TV program “Schemes” reports on corruption among Ukraine’s political elites, including Traffic Police Chief Oleksandr Yershov, who resigned within hours of the airing of a report on his activities in May 2015. Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau is reviewing materials on 15 cases gathered by the Schemes team for possible action.
  • RFE/RL recently boosted its reach to two strategic areas in Ukraine: in September 2015, the Ukrainian Service began broadcasting to annexed Crimea on AM; effective July 2016 it began broadcasting direct to parts of separatist-controlled Donbas on FM.
  • After Russia annexed Crimea in March 2014, RFE/RL launched a website to cover events on the peninsula in three languages--Russian, Ukrainian, and Crimean Tatar. The Russian research agency Medialogiya named it the second most quoted news resource in Crimea in 2015.
  • The Service has expanded rapidly into video and television production to cover developments in Crimea and Donbas. Broadcast partners include Espreso TV, News Channel 24, and many regional channels. Since January 2016 Radio Svoboda has reported from Brussels for leading Ukrainian TV channel 1+1.
  • Radio Svoboda has nearly 450,000 followers on Twitter and over 200,000 followers on Facebook.
  • Radio Svoboda websites drew 28.2 million visitors and 51 million page views in the first half of 2016.

Updated: 28 December 2016

Facts & Stats about Ukraine

  • Population: 45.198 million (World Bank estimate, 2015)
  • Most Common Languages: Ukrainian, Russian, Crimean Tartar, Yiddish
  • Press Freedom Index (Freedom House): Partly Free, ranked 112 out of 199 (2016)​
  • Crimea--Not Free, ranked 196 out of 199 (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 163 (2016)
  • Human Rights Watch: Report on Ukraine (2016)
  • Amnesty International: Ukraine Report (2015/2016)