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RFE/RL’s Tatar-Bashkir Service: Radio Azatliq

Radio Azatliq, the only major international news provider in the Tatar and Bashkir languages, serves as a unique bridge between Tatar communities in Russia, Crimea and the world.

Fast Facts

  • Language: Tatar, Bashkir, Crimean Tatar
  • Established: 1953
  • Distribution: Internet (website, mobile, social media), podcast
  • Coverage: Radio: 30 minutes daily via Internet and satellite
  • Location: Prague
  • Staff: 6 (Prague), 16 stringers

Media Environment

  • Freedom House Freedom of the Press Index, 2016: Not Free (83rd/100)
  • Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index, 2016: 148th/180
  • Defamation was decriminalized in 2011, but many public officials have successfully initiated defamation cases to silence critics.
  • Since the start of Russian-Ukrainian crisis, the media environment has suffered from the rise of hostile anti-Western, especially anti-American sentiment, as all regional media have adopted the Kremlin’s isolationist and nationalistic approach.
  • Media outlets in Tatarstan and Bashkortostan face restrictions similar to those found elsewhere in Russia. Journalists and others who cover sensitive topics or question official policies risk imprisonment, and opposition websites are routinely shut down without explanation. Charges of libel and “instigating extremism” are used to silence journalists and whistleblowers. These risks often lead journalists to self-censor their work.


  • Radio Azatliq primarily operates online, using a wide range of platforms to inform and engage its audience. Azatliq is the most technologically advanced web source in the Tatar language.
  • In response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the service has expanded its coverage of the deteriorating status of Crimean Tatars on the peninsula. In April 2015, Russian authorities halted broadcasts by RFE/RL affiliate Radio Meydan, which had previously aired the service’s programs in Crimean Tatar.
  • Radio Azatliq content is an indispensable resource for teaching the Tatar language to students, due to its modern use of the language, topical stories, and the combination of audio and video versions of reports.
  • The service hosted a Vaclav Havel Journalism Fellow in 2013-2014, to strengthen the service’s multi-media programming and expand its reporting of minority issues in Tatarstan.
  • Radio Azatliq’s website provides an informed, public platform for discussing sensitive issues such as Russia’s policies toward ethnic and religious minorities, centralization, corruption, the role of Islam in predominantly Muslim regions, Islam’s compatibility with Western values and institutions, and gender issues. Russian authorities monitor these discussions and have tried to interfere with them.

Updated: 22 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 Tatarstan

  • Population: 3,786,488 (2010 census)
  • Most Common Languages: Tatar, Russian

Facts & Stats about Bashkortostan

  • Population: 4,072,292 (2010 census)
  • Most Common Languages: Russian, Tatar, Bashkir