Tuesday, August 04, 2015

RFE/RL's Turkmen Service

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, social media)
  • Coverage: Internet & satellite, 8 hours daily; SW, 2 hours daily
  • Locations: Prague
  • Staff: 5 (Prague), 12 stringers


Media Environment

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Average monthly visits to Azatlyk’s webpage www.azathabar.com in 2013 rose 255% over the previous year.
  • The Azatlyk Facebook page has grown in popularity from 217 fans in 2011 to over 85,000 today. Newly created YouTube and Vkontakte pages have attracted nearly 1,900 subscribers and 3,000 members, respectively.
  • 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 the coalition troops withdrew from Afghanistan, Radio Azatlyk pioneered 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.
  • Dovletmyrat Yazkuliyev, who was imprisoned for his coverage for Radio Azatlyk of the Abadan munitions plant explosion in 2011, won Human Rights Watch’s 2012 Hellman-Hammett award in recognition of sacrifices he made as a journalist in defense of free speech.

Updated: 9 June 2015


Facts & Stats

5.240 million (World Bank estimate, 2013)

Most Common Languages:
Turkmen, Russian, Uzbek

Press Freedom Index (Freedom House):
Not Free, ranked 197 out of 199 (2015)
"Worst of the Worst" (2015)

Press Freedom Index (RSF):
178 out of 180 (2015);
"Enemy of the Internet" (2012)

Corruption Index (Transparency Int.):
169 out of 175 (2014)

Global Peace Index (IES):
95 out of 162 (2014)

Human Rights Watch:
Report on Turkmenistan (2015)

Amnesty International:
Turkmenistan Report (2014/2015)