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Protest, Election Coverage Brings Record Audiences to RFE/RL Online Platforms

Capture from Current Time interview with a striking Russian long-haul trucker in Irkutsk (28 May 2017).

WASHINGTON -- RFE/RL coverage of recent mass protests in Russia and Belarus, as well as national elections in Armenia and Serbia, brought record-breaking audiences to RFE/RL.

RFE/RL Russian Service video reports on the March 26 mass demonstrations organized in Moscow by anti-corruption activist and opposition leader Aleksey Navalny were viewed 3.2 million times from March 26-28 on YouTube, with the most popular report being the first interview with Navalny after his March 27 arrest. Additionally, a video roundup of statements by striking long-haul truck drivers around Russia, which included video from both Current Time and Idel Realii, RFE/RL’s regional Volga region website, has been viewed more than 4 million times across platforms and was a top trending video on the popular Russian social media site Odnoklassniki.

RFE/RL’s Belarusian Service also saw traffic to its online platforms spike on March 25 as a result of its coverage of large-scale protests against a so-called “social parasite tax.” Over a two-day period, the Service’s live-streamed reporting on the demonstrations and the subsequent police crackdown that led to hundreds of arrests and many beatings generated 3 million Twitter views, 1.3 million YouTube views, 850,000 Facebook views and hundreds of thousands of views on the Russian social media sites VKontakte and Odnoklassniki.

In more record-breaking news, RFE/RL’s Armenian Service’s coverage of the country’s April 2 parliamentary elections, including more than 15 hours of live interviews, local analysis, polling place reports, vox-pops, and international reactions, brought 3,251,823 video views and 1,666,614 post engagements on Facebook, and more than 840,000 video views on YouTube, mainly from inside the country. One Armenian Service reporter was attacked while gathering information about alleged vote-buying at one polling station.

The Balkan Service’s live Facebook coverage of public protests that followed the election of Alexandar Vucic as president of Serbia on April 2 has been viewed more than 1.4 million times.