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RFE/RL’s Turkmen Service: Radio Azatlyk

Radio Azatlyk offers Turkmen-speaking audiences accurate, locally sourced information about themselves and their society that they need to know and which the official media does not provide.

Fast Facts

  • Language: Turkmen
  • Established: 1953
  • Distribution: Radio (SW, satellite), Internet (website, mobile, YouTube, social media)
  • Coverage: Internet & satellite, 8 hours daily; SW, 2 hours daily
  • Location: Prague
  • Staff: 5 (Prague), 3 stringers

Media Environment

  • Freedom House Freedom of the Press Ranking, 2016: Not Free (198th/199). Consistently ranked among Freedom House's "Worst of the Worst" repressive societies.
  • Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index, 2016: 178th/180.
  • RFE/RL has neither a bureau nor accredited journalists in Turkmenistan. Stringers and freelancers work under routine surveillance and, together with their families, are often subject to harassment and intimidation. In 2006, correspondent Ogulsapar Muradova died under unexplained circumstances in a Turkmen prison.
  • As Azatlyk’s popularity has grown within Turkmenistan, authorities have intensified their pressure on the Service’s local correspondents. In 2015, Service freelancers have been questioned, detained, and otherwise harassed, and several have been forced to suspend their cooperation with Azatlyk.
  • Radio Azatlyk's website is blocked, obliging visitors to use proxy servers to access the site.


  • Radio Azatlyk is the only international media company providing regular multi-media reporting from inside the country, with original video reporting and photojournalism.
  • The average number of monthly visits to Azatlyk’s webpage has grown tremendously, from 18,000 in 2011 to 430,000 today. Similarly, the number of “likes’ on Azatlyk’s Facebook page has grown 217 in 2011 to over 151,500 today. Newly created YouTube and VKontakte pages are also rapidly gaining large audiences.
  • Radio Azatlyk’s coverage of homelessness, housing conditions and travel restrictions on Turkmen citizens has prompted government action to improve facilities and social services. Its reporting on human rights cases has helped bring about the release of activists and journalists from prison, and its reporting on the busing of schoolchildren into cotton fields to help with the harvest helped convince government officials to return the children and their teachers to class.
  • As the bulk of ISAF coalition forces withdrew from Afghanistan, Radio Azatlyk broke new ground by reporting about the deteriorating security situation along the Afghan-Turkmen border, providing a unique service both to local audiences and to global news consumers.
  • In 2014, Radio Azatlyk launched a program of bi-weekly roundtables, conducted in English and translated and aired in Turkmen, that bring together local officials, foreign diplomats, regional experts, and ordinary citizens to discuss pressing, on-the-ground realities and their political, economic and security implications for the region. The English language discussion is also made available to broader audience through RFE/RL english language site.

Updated: 29 December 2016

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