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RFE/RL Names New Central Asia Director

Hamid Ismailov, RFE/RL Regional Director for Central Asia.

PRAGUE -- Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) has named Hamid Ismailov as the company’s new Regional Director for Central Asia, effective February 1.

“Our Central Asian services recently have produced some of their most impactful reporting ever, and so we’re delighted that Hamid has agreed to join us to build on this strength and take our work to the next level,” said RFE/RL President Jamie Fly. “The region is profoundly challenging, but Hamid’s deep journalistic experience and regional expertise will provide strategic direction to our work and ensure that our colleagues have the support they need to continue providing great journalism for our audiences in Central Asia,” Fly said.

Ismailov joins RFE/RL in Prague from the BBC World Service, where he spent 14 years as head of the Central Asian and Caucasus division, producing reporting in six languages on multiple platforms for nearly a dozen countries in the region. He subsequently worked as the BBC’s Executive Editor for Europe. An accomplished correspondent, novelist, poet, and author, he was the World Service's first appointed Writer-in-Residence, and has spearheaded new media and podcasting initiatives for the World Service in Russia.

He speaks all of the Central Asian languages, in addition to Russian, Turkish, and Persian.

Ismailov will replace Acting Central Asia Regional Director Venera Djumataeva, who oversaw a series of highly influential investigative reports during her tenure. She will resume her position as director of RFE/RL’s award-winning Kyrgyz Service. “Venera played a key role in RFE/RL’s successes in this vital region over the past 10 months,” said Fly. “I appreciate her willingness to serve RFE/RL in this role during an important period and am glad she will continue to contribute to our work going forward.”

RFE/RL’s Central Asia Division comprises Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Uzbek, Tajik, and Turkmen language services, which are available on traditional and digital platforms and set a standard in one of the world’s most repressive regions for professional and independent news.

About RFE/RL
RFE/RL relies on its networks of local reporters to provide accurate news and information to more than 37 million people in 26 languages and 22 countries where media freedom is restricted, or where a professional press has not fully developed. Its videos were viewed over 3.6 billion times on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram/IGTV in FY2019. RFE/RL is an editorially independent media company funded by a grant from the U.S. Congress through the U.S. Agency for Global Media.


Joanna Levison in Prague,, +420.221.122.080
Martins Zvaners in Washington,, +1.202.457.6948