Saturday, April 18, 2015

RFE/RL's Turkmen Service

Radio Azatlyk provides Turkmen-speaking audiences with 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, 30 minutes 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 in 2013 rose 255% over the previous year.
  • The Azatlyk Facebook page has grown from 217 fans in 2011 to 69,680 fans today.
  • The newly created YouTube and V Kontakte pages have attracted nearly 1700 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. This coverage has been the main source of information for a global, as well as local, audience.
  • In 2014, Radio Azatlyk launched a program of bi-weekly roundtables, conducted in English and translated and aired in Turkmen, that convene local officials, foreign diplomats, regional experts, and ordinary citizens to discuss pressing realities on the ground and their political, economic and security implications for the region.  The English version, available as a pod-cast, is popular with other RFE/RL language services.
  • 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: 26 March 2015


Facts & Stats

5.173 million (World Bank estimate, 2012)

Most Common Languages:
Turkmen, Russian, Uzbek

Press Freedom Index (Freedom House):
Not Free, ranked 195 out of 197 (2014)
"Worst of the Worst" (2012)

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 (2013)

Amnesty International:
Turkmenistan Report (2013)