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RFE/RL is a unique source of information about many of the world's political hotspots, including Afghanistan, Iran, Russia, Iraq, and 16 other countries in our broadcast region. Our journalists and experts are available for media interviews or to provide background information on a wide variety of subjects and issues.​

In The Spotlight

On Iran

Pompeo: Claims Of U.S. Involvement In Iran Bus Attack 'Outrageous'
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Niusha Boghrati, chief editor of RFE/RL’s Iranian Service, Radio Farda, interviews U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at an international meeting on the Middle East in Warsaw, Poland on February 14, 2019.

On Russia

Irina Lagunina, journalist of RFE/RL's Russian Service, interviews the U.S. ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman on religious freedom in Russia, sanctions, and Ukrainian elections, in Prague on April 12, 2019.

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Afghanistan

Qadir Habib

Qadir Habib was appointed Acting Director of RFE/RL's Afghan Service in April 2019. Previously, he was the Service’s managing editor, supervising 12 hours of daily broadcasts to millions of listeners inside the country and among the Afghan diaspora worldwide. He was one of the first journalists to join the Service in 2002, and has worked both at its bureau in Kabul and headquarters in Prague. In his various roles, he has reported groundbreaking stories, conducted exclusive interviews with policymakers and leaders, and hosted popular talk shows on Afghanistan’s security, political, economic, and social issues. Habib holds a Master Degree in Business Communication and Public Relations from La Salle University in Philadelphia, and a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication from Cairo University in Egypt.

Expertise: Anti-Terrorism and militancy in Af-Pak region, Afghan politics and media

Malali Bashir

Malali Bashir is an award winning journalist and video producer with RFE/RL’s Afghan Service, known locally as Radio Azadi. Bashir, who is from greater Kandahar region, reports on a range of topics related to Afghanistan, often with a women’s rights perspective. She is the producer and presenter of a Pashto video and TV show about Afghans with significant achievements in the diaspora, particularly women. Bashir received the Afghan Professionals Network’s (APn) 2018 Aspire Award for outstanding achievement in the Media sector. She is also Winner of the 2015 Social Media Award in the Twitter Power User category in Afghanistan. She often speaks on different issues from human rights to terrorism, peace and security, misinformation, disinformation, and extremist propaganda. Along with her work at RFE/RL, Bashir has written for BBC Pashto, Foreign Policy, and The Daily Times, and has edited Afghan magazines. Prior to her journalistic work, Malali was a Fulbright scholar at Brandeis University, Massachusetts.

Expertise: Women’s rights, civil society

Abubakar Siddique

Abubakar Siddique is a journalist specializing in coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the editor of RFE/RL's "Gandhara" website. He has spent the past fifteen years researching and writing about security, political, humanitarian, and cultural issues in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the Pashtun heartland where he was born. In addition to his reporting, Siddique speaks frequently at prominent think tanks in several countries, and has contributed articles, chapters, and research papers to a range of publications. Siddique's unique expertise is brought to bear in “The Pashtun Question: The Unresolved Key to the Future of Pakistan and Afghanistan” book. (London: Hurst and Company, 2014). Abubakar Siddique has been cited by international press, including the Wall Street Journal.

Expertise: Afghanistan, Afghanistan-Pakistan issues, tribal regions

Mustafa Mohammad Sarwar

Mustafa Mohammad Sarwar is a Prague-based broadcaster and journalist with Radio Azadi, RFE/RL’s Afghan Service. He began working with the Radio in Kabul in 2002 and joined the main headquarters in 2005. Sarwar has been covering a wide range of topics on Afghanistan including stories related to Afghan women and youth, key NATO and EU summits on the country, and issues related to Afghan refugees both in Afghanistan and abroad. He produced several well-received programs and short documentaries on Afghan refugees including a feature story on Afghan migrants in the Greek Island of Kos in 2015, which was picked by Reuters and Canada's Global News Station as well as some local media. Additionally, his short documentary in 2012 under the title of In Kabul, IDPs Find Security, Little Help received an honorary award by Webby Awards presented annually by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. He also worked for a popular national TV station TOLO TV from 2003-2004 in Kabul. He received a diploma in Journalism and News Writing from London school of Journalism, an MA degree in Business Communication from La Salle University and graduated from Kabul Medical University.

Expertise: Afghan migrants and refugees in Europe, Security, Extremism in Afghanistan

Armenia

Harry Tamrazian

Harry Tamrazian is the Director of RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. During his career, Tamrazian has covered major international events, most notably the 1992 United Nations session during which the former Soviet Union countries became UN members and the U.S.-mediated talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh. His reports have been published in leading Armenian and South Caucasus regional newspapers, the Miami Herald, Asia Times, Times of Central Asia, Eurasia Insight, and the Council on Foreign Relations. He has appeared on CNN and Al Jazeera to discuss developments in Armenia and Turkish-Armenian relations.

Siranuysh Gevorgyan

Siranuysh Gevorgyan, the Yerevan Bureau Director and Editor-in-Chief for RFE/RL’s Armenian Service, has been with the organization since 2010. She began as a web site (Azatutyun.am) editor, subsequently becoming the Bureau Director in April, 2016. Formerly she worked at local news web site ArmeniaNow.com covering domestic and foreign politics and social issues. Gevorgyan holds a M.D. in Journalism from Yerevan State University. She is fluent in English and Russian.

Artur Papyan

Artur Papyan is a senior multimedia editor with RFE/RL’s Armenian Service and a key member of its live Internet TV team. He also oversees the Armenian Service’s social media accounts and edits the Armenian version of the website. Papyan has reported on Armenia’s top stories, and streamed live video from major international events like Euromaidan in Ukraine. In recent years he has taught online media, internet journalism, and professional ethics at a number of Armenian universities. And previously worked as the Armenian country coordinator for the London based Media Diversity Institute. He has produced documentary films, radio programs, and newspaper supplements.

Expertise: Technology, Social Media Marketing, Blogging, Media Ethics

Heghine Buniatyan

Heghine Buniatyan has been a senior editor with RFE/RL’s Armenian Service since June 2016. She has previously served as the editor-in-chief of the Yerevan bureau, a broadcaster, and as the director of the Maxliberty Youth Program. Before joining RFE/RL in 2004, she worked for Armenian Public Television as a correspondent and anchor of the midnight news, and as a freelancer at Internews, contributing weekly reports for radio and television. A graduate of Yerevan State University and Moscow State University with a degrees in journalism, Buniatyan also participated in a number of journalism and leadership training courses in Armenia and abroad. In 2004 she won first prize in the OSCE media awards in the Best Radio Journalist category for highlighting environmental issues.

Azerbaijan

Ilkin Mammadov

Ilkin Mammadov is the director of RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani Service. Having joined RFE/RL in 2004, he has reported on major news events and played a lead role in launching several of the service’s signature programs on FM, TV, and the web. Previously, he worked for Internews-Network and several local TV stations in Baku, Azerbaijan. Mammadov holds an MBA degree from the University of Pittsburgh's Katz Graduate School of Business, and a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Baku State University.

The Balkans

Arbana Vidishiqi

Arbana Vidishiqi is the Director or RFE/RL’s Balkan Service. She joined RFE/RL in 1999 as a Pristina-based political affairs correspondent, and led the ethnically diverse bureau as bureau chief during the volatile inter-ethnic tensions that followed the 1999 war in Kosovo. In June 2011, Vidishiqi was appointed head of the Kosovo unit. Vidishiqi graduated London’s Hendon College with a degree in communications and technology. She is a native Albanian speaker and is fluent in English and south Slavic languages.

Expertise: Kosovo, Balkan region, radical extremism

Gordana Knezevic

Gordana Knezevic is the author of RFE/RL's blog "Balkans Without Borders," an expert source of regional commentary and analysis for English-speaking audiences. She was director of RFE/RL's Balkan Service from 2008 - 2016. Knezevic is well-known for work as deputy editor of “Oslobodjenje,” the internationally recognized Sarajevo-based daily newspaper that never stopped publishing during the Bosnian War, a role for which she was honored with the 1992 Courage in Journalism award by the Washington-based International Women’s Media Foundation. After leaving Bosnia, Knezevic worked as an online editor with Reuters News Agency in Canada, and was a regular contributor to the Toronto Star and CBC Radio.

Dragan Stavljanin

Dragan Stavljanin is a journalist with RFE/RL's Balkan Service. Originally based in Belgrade, he joined RFE/RL in 1999 in Prague, where he has produced analyses on Balkan-Russia relations, Balkan-EU relations, post-communist political and economic transitions and ethnic conflicts; moderated nighttime radio programs; and interviewed numerous foreign politicians and experts. In 2008 he authored a radio and Internet series on frozen conflicts in the Southern Caucasus. Stavlijanin has been interviewed about the Balkans by media in the U.S., Russia, Iran, France, Poland, the Baltic States, and in the Czech Republic. He holds a Ph.D and is the author of the books “Cold Peace: Caucasus and Kosovo” and “The Balkanization of the Internet and the Death of Journalists.”

Expertise: Serbia, Balkan region, Frozen Conflicts

Dzenana Halimovic

Dzenana Halimovic has worked as a correspondent for RFE/RL since 2005. She began working as a journalist in Bosnia in 1998, reporting for the Bosnian dailies “Oslobodenje” and “Vecernje novine,” and later for the magazine “Start BiH” and the national TV station BHRT. Her main reporting interests are war crimes and organized crime, as well as major political and security issues in the region. She won an Amnesty International Global Human Rights Award and an award from the Bosnian Journalists Union for the best investigative story in 2003.

Expertise: war crimes, terrorism, organized crime and corruption.

Asja Hafner

Asja Hafner joined RFE/RL’s Balkan service in 2017 as Digital Media Manager, running a newly formed Digital unit in Sarajevo, Bosnia. She is editorially in charge of the dialogue platform Not In My Name, presenting content related to issues tackling radicalization and extremism, primarily in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Western Balkans region. Her career in journalism began in 1993 when she worked for magazine DANI, one of the few newspaper outlets issued in Sarajevo under the siege. Asja and a team of colleagues won the 2017 City Of Sarajevo Award for their contribution in the field of science and education. Asja has worked for TV and documentary film and multimedia projects as an author, editor, researcher, producer and curator. Her interests are social and cultural studies, political and contemporary anthropology, gender and identity studies, visual arts, literature and philosophy, digital humanities, and ethics in journalism.

Expertise: Radicalization of Balkan societies, war in former Yugoslavia (91-99), political sociology, digital&new media

Marija Mitevska

Marija Mitevska is a senior journalist based in Macedonia with RFE/RL’s Balkan Service, providing TV interviews and video reports for the station’s website. Before joining RFE/RL in 2009, Mitevska worked at the popular Macedonian TV station A1. In 2014, she was the only Macedonian journalist to win a Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence from the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network. Also in 2014, she received an honorable mention in the Macedonian Institute of Media’s Nikola Mladenov competition for one of her investigative reports. Mitevska holds a degree from the School for Journalism and Public Relations in Macedonia.

Expertise: Macedonia, Corruption, Multimedia

Milos Teodorovic

Milos Teodorovic joined RFE /RL in 1999 and in December 2015 he became the Bureau Chief of RFE/RL’s Serbian Service. As a RFE/RL journalist Teodorovic received numerous awards for investigative journalism, radio and TV journalism, among which his "Gaffe of the Week" column was honored with the American Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts award (2014). Milos also received awards from the Independent Association of Journalists of Serbia for his story on Serbian right wing extremists (2012) and an EU investigative journalism award for his documentary on protected witnesses associated with war crimes in Serbia (2014).

Belarus

Alexander Lukashuk

Alexander Lukashuk is the Director of RFE/RL’s Belarus service. Since joining RFE/RL in 1993, Lukashuk has held roles as Director of RFE/RL’s Afghan Service (2004-2005) and as acting Executive Editor (2007). Born in Belarus, he graduated from Minsk Linguistic University, worked as a translator, journalist, and documentary script-writer, and served as Editor-in-Chief of the Belarus publishing house. Between 1990 and 1995, he participated in Belarus’s parliamentary commission on the crimes of Joseph Stalin. Lukashuk has authored five award-winning books, including “The Adventures of ARA in Belarus” on the American relief operation in the USSR in the 1920s. He also received a Belarus Pen-center annual award for non-fiction literature for his role in creating the “Liberty Library series” of pocket books based on RFE/RL programming. Lukashuk’s own books “Adventures of ARA in Belarus” and “Oswald in Minsk” were awarded as well. The award is named after Ales Adamovich, a prominent writer and politician of the glasnost era, mentor of Nobel prize winner Svetlana Alexievich.

Alex Znatkevich

Alex Znatkevich is a veteran multi-media journalist with RFE/RL’s Belarusian Service. Prior to joining RFE/RL, Znatkevich worked for the Belarusian independent news agency BelaPAN, and was a correspondent for the internet journal Transitions Online. In 2001 he authored a chapter on Belarusian media in Polls Apart, a publication of the British Institute for War and Peace Reporting. His work has also appeared in such publications as Foreign Policy (US), Babylon (Czech Republic), and ARCHE (Belarus).

Expertise: Domestic politics, foreign policy

Vitali Tsyhankou

Vitali Tsyhankou, a Minsk-based broadcaster for RFE/RL’s Belarus Service, has been with the service since 1994. Tsyhankou prepares the “Expertise of Liberty” program and “Hero of the week” interview, and writes his columns. Previously, he worked for the newspaper Zviazda, and was the Belarus correspondent for the Associated Press and the Russian newspaper Nezavisimaja Gazeta. He was also a columnist and political analyst for the most popular independent newspaper, Svaboda. In 1991, Tsyhankou co-founded the Belarusian first independent BELAPAN news agency. He was awarded the Ales Adamovich prize by the Belarusian PEN-club for his commentaries and articles. In 1997, he was recognized as one of the three best political journalists by a survey conducted among Belarusian journalists, editors, and analyst. He was also awarded a prize for columns and analytical articles by the Belarusian Association of Journalist, Volnaje Slova (Free Word). Tsyhankou graduated from the faculty of journalism at the Belarusian State University in 1992. He speaks Belarusian, Russian, English, and Czech.

Bulgaria

Ivan Bedrov

Ivan Bedrov is the Director of RFE/RL’s Bulgarian service, which was relaunched in January 2019. Over the course of a 24-year-long career in Bulgarian media, Bedrov has worked as a radio reporter for RFE/RL's Bulgarian Service in the late 1990s, and as a current affairs program producer and host for the country’s first private national TV station, bTV. In 2014, he was made deputy editor-in-chief of the leading news and analytical website ClubZ.bg. He has also worked as a political commentator for the international broadcaster Deutsche Welle. Bedrov is a member of the Bulgarian Commission for Journalism Ethics and has won a number of journalism awards.

Central Asia Regional

Venera Djumataeva

Venera Djumataeva is the Acting Regional Director of RFE/RL’s Central Asian Services. In her current capacity and earlier as a broadcaster for RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz ervice and free-lancer in Bishkek, she has covered major events in Central Asia and international topics relating to Kyrgyzstan and the region at large. Earlier, she worked for Bishkek’s Radio "Mir," and contributed to the Institute for War and Peace Reporting. Djumataeva’s articles on Kyrgyz and Central Asian politics and social issues have been published in many of Kyrgyzstan’s independent newspapers, including Res Publica, Slovo Kyrgystana, Erkin-Too, De-Facto, Tribuna, and Agym. She is frequently invited to provide expertise at the Bishkek Press Club, and for interviews on Czech and Turkish television. Djumataeva graduated from the History Faculty at Kyrgyz State University and has a post-graduate degree from Kyrgyz National University

Central Newsroom

Bruce Pannier

Bruce Pannier is an RFE/RL correspondent reporting on events and energy issues in Central Asia. He frequently reports from the region, most recently covering the parliamentary election campaign in Kyrgyzstan in 2015. Prior to joining RFE/RL in 1997, Pannier worked at the Open Media Research Institute in Prague. In 1992, he led a sociological project in Central Asia sponsored by the University of Manchester and the Soros Cultural Initiative Foundation, during which he lived in villages in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Pannier’s work has been published by Jane's Information Group, Transitions Online, Freedom House, and Newsbase, and he has spoken at Cambridge University, Columbia University, the University of Wisconsin, Glasgow University, London’s Chatham House and Center For Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). He holds degrees from Columbia University, New York and Tashkent State University, Uzbekistan.

Expertise: Central Asia, Energy

Christopher Miller

Christopher Miller is an American journalist with more than six years of experience as a foreign correspondent. His focus is on global affairs, specifically conflicts, crises, and politics in the former Soviet Union and especially Ukraine, where he has been based since 2010. Currently, he is Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Ukraine correspondent. Previously, he served as Mashable’s senior international correspondent. He has also published with The Times, The Telegraph, The Independent, and GlobalPost.
In 2013, Christopher was the first Western correspondent on the ground in Kiev to cover the Euromaidan revolution. He also crisscrossed Crimea to cover Russia’s annexation of the peninsula before reporting on the war that exploded in eastern Ukraine.
His reporting extended far beyond Ukraine’s borders. In 2015, he reported from the front lines of Europe’s refugee crisis, interviewing people smugglers, refugees, volunteers and others affected in Greece, Italy, Malta, and Turkey. Christopher has also reported on the Kremlin’s military campaign in Syria, the rise of far-right and populist organizations across Europe, NATO’s moves in Europe and cyber security.

Golnaz Esfandiari

Golnaz Esfandiari is a senior correspondent in RFE/RL's Central Newsroom and editor of the award-winning Persian Letters blog. She was previously chief editor of RFE/RL‘s Persian Service, Radio Farda. Her reporting and analysis on Iran have been cited by The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy, The Los Angeles Times, and The Weekly Standard, and she is frequently sought out to provide commentary on Iran, including by CNN, NPR, BBC, and Czech, Slovak, Polish, Argentinian, and South African television and radio channels. Esfandiari has worked as a consultant on Iran with Freedom House, authoring several of their reports on human rights and press freedom in Iran. In 2013, she was tagged for the third year in a row in Foreign Policy's Top 100 Twitterati list (@GEsfandiari).

Expertise: Human Rights, Iran, Media Freedom

Frud Bezhan

Frud Bezhan covers Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran for RFE/RL, reporting frequently direct from Kabul and elsewhere in the region. Prior to joining RFE/RL, he worked as a freelance journalist in Afghanistan and contributed regularly to several Australian newspapers, including The Age, the Sydney Morning Herald, and The Australian. His work has also been published in The Atlantic, Defense One, and Asia Times. Bezhan holds a B.A. in journalism from Monash University, Australia.

Expertise: South Asia and the Middle East

Rikard Jozwiak

Rikard Jozwiak is the Brussels reporter for RFE/RL, responsible for daily reporting about EU institutions and NATO, the Eastern Partnership, and the Western Balkans. Prior to joining RFE/RL, he worked as the press officer at the EU office of Amnesty International and as a reporter for “European Voice” covering EU affairs. Jozwiak has a Masters degree in Journalism from the University of Lund, Sweden and a Masters degree in European Politics from the College of Europe. He speaks English, French, Polish and Swedish.

Expertise: Domestic Politics, Foreign Affairs, Security & Military, EU politics

Steve Gutterman

Steve Gutterman is News Editor of RFE/RL’s Central Newsroom and author of the Week In Russia newsletter. Now based in Prague, Steve lived and worked in Russia and the former Soviet Union on and off -- mostly on -- from 1989 to 2014, including postings in Moscow with the Associated Press and Reuters. He is a graduate of Williams College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Mike Eckel

As RFE/RL’s Senior Washington Correspondent, Mike Eckel reports on U.S. foreign policy toward Russia, shadowy Russian lobbying campaigns in Washington, and money laundering investigations. In 2014, he covered the aftermath of the Ukraine Maidan protests, the disputed annexation referendum in Crimea, and the outbreak of war in eastern Ukraine. Eckel spent most of his 20-year-long journalist career with the Associated Press, first as a freelancer and then as a reporter and editor. He was a senior correspondent in Moscow for 5 ½ years, where he traveled around the former Soviet Union covering the 2004 school hostage seizure in Beslan, the ongoing conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, the 2008 Russian-Georgian war, as well as terrorist attacks, arms control treaty negotiations, and President Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin. He has also reported and edited for the Christian Science Monitor, Al Jazeera America, Voice of America, and the Vladivostok News. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from Colby College in Maine, and a Master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, in Massachusetts.

Expertise: Russia, Ukraine, former Soviet Union, Kremlin politics, North Caucasus terrorism, Russian history

Counter Extremism

Noah Tucker

Noah Tucker, Executive Editor for Not In Our Name, RFE/RL’s research and documentary project on extremism in Central Asia, is Senior Editor for RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service and an associate at George Washington University’s Elliot School of International Affairs Central Asia Program. He was previously Managing Editor at Registan.net and a researcher for the multi-year Harvard/Carnegie Islam in Eurasia Project. He has worked on collaborative projects to identify the way social and religious groups affect political and security outcomes, and headed a team that tracks social media use by Uzbek violent extremist organizations and their effect on the Uzbek-language internet. His most recent publications include Islam, Society and Politics in Central Asia and “The Evolution of the Uzbek Jihad” in Constructing the Uzbek State: Narratives of Post-Soviet Years. Tucker has an MA from Harvard in Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies, and has spent a total of five years living and working in in the region, primarily in Uzbekistan.

Expertise: Anthropology, religion, social mobilization, social violence

Current Time: TV news for Russian-speaking audiences outside Russia

Pavel Butorin

Pavel Butorin is is Acting Director of Current Time TV, the 24/7 Russian language digital and TV network, led by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) in cooperation with the Voice of America. Butorin has been with RFE/RL since 2001, first as a producer for Central News, then as a video producer for the multimedia department, and finally as managing editor for Current Time TV. He has been a leading member of the Current Time team since its inception as a 30-minute television news program in 2014, and was instrumental in its transformation into a successful 24/7 digital and television network. He is a graduate of Ohio University in the United States and has a Master’s degree in Mass Communications.

Kenan Aliyev

Kenan Aliyev is the Executive Editor For Features for Current Time, the 24/7 Russian language digital and TV network, led by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) in cooperation with the Voice of America. He launched Current Time’s earliest iteration in 2014 as a 30-minute news program, and currently oversees its features content. Under his leadership, the network has become the largest provider of independent documentary films in Russia, screening over 100 creative documentaries a year, including those that are banned in Russia because of their content. Aliyev oversees the production of Current Time’s commissioned content, including Vitaly Manksy’s award-winning documentary Putin’s Witnesses, and the lauded TV series Unknown Russia and Person on the Map. He was formerly director of RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani Service and, before joining RFE/RL, was a stringer for the BBC in Baku. He received an RFE/RL President’s Award in 2016 “for his great contribution to the successful launch of Current Time TV.”

Kiryl Sukhotski

Kiryl Sukhotski is the Executive Editor for News at Current Time TV, RFE/RL's 24/7 channel aiming at the Russian-language audience in the region. He oversees all news and current affairs output from news bulletins at the top of the hour to longer evening shows, as well as special projects and breaking news coverage. Kiryl was born in Minsk, Belarus and got his MA in International Journalism from City University in London with a specialization in covering war conflicts. Prior to joining RFE/RL he had been the head of the regional Russia/CIS TV operation for Reuters and worked for the BBC in London and Moscow. Over his journalistic career he interviewed many presidents and prime ministers, CEOs, political activists and popular figures – from Hugo Chavez and Christine Lagarde to Madonna. He traveled to some 90 countries and is currently based in Prague.

Andrei Cherkasov

Andrei Cherkasov has been a part of RFE/RL’s Current Time unit since 2015, where he hosts the program “Look at Both Sides” (Смотри в оба), which exposes fake news and corrects both innocent mistakes and deliberate fabrications by comparing reporting from a variety of sources to allow the viewer to decide for themselves. Prior to joining RFE/RL, Cherkasov served as Paris Bureau Chief for Channel One Russia from 2013-2015). A veteran of more than twenty years as a broadcast journalist for Russian television companies Channel One, NTV, and, in the early 1990’s, Ekho Moskvy, Cherkasov run news bureaus in Paris (2013-2015), Washington (2009-2013), and London, 1999-2006), and filed reports from war zones and major international summits throughout Europe, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

Press Freedom Issues

Joanna Levison

Joanna Levison is Director of Media and Public Affairs at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) with over 20 years of experience in international media relations and democracy promotion. Based in the company's headquarters in the Czech Republic, she is responsible for media promotion, outreach, fellowship programs, and journalists' advocacy, overseeing operations both in the company's Prague and Washington, D.C. offices. Before joining RFE/RL in 2009, Ms. Levison worked as a foreign policy officer for Iraq and the Middle East in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor at the U.S. Department of State. She previously worked for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, managing programs in the former Soviet Union, and consulted for the International Republican Institute. She has an M.A. in Russian and East European Studies from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and a B.A. from Swarthmore College.

Europe Regional

Jeremy Bransten

Jeremy Bransten, the Regional Director for RFE/RL's European language services, has been with the organization in Prague since 1995. He began as a news writer and reporter focused on Russia, subsequently becoming a senior editor in RFE/RL's Central Newsroom and later its director for five years. Bransten holds a B.A. in Russian Studies from Harvard University and an MA in Central and East European Studies from the University of London. He is fluent in Russian and Czech.

Georgia

Natia Zambakhidze

Natia Zambakhidze, Director of RFE/RL's Georgian Service, joined RFE/RL in June 2018. She has an extensive background in TV journalism in Georgia, having worked for leading broadcasters since the early 1990’s, including TV company Rustavi 2 (1999-2006) as a reporter, anchor, host and a producer of the news and political shows. During this time, Natia covered all major political and social developments in Georgia and the region including the Rose and Orange Revolutions. Natia left journalism in 2006 and joined the foreign service. Before joining RFE/RL, she worked as a senior political counselor for the Georgian Embassy in Washington, D.C. Natia earned her Master’s degree in Journalism from the University of Tbilisi.

Expertise: Georgia, domestic politics, foreign policy

Demis Polandov

Demis Polandov is a broadcaster and editor of RFE/RL’s Ekho Kavkaza unit, which produces Russian-language broadcasts for Georgia and the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Prior to joining RFE/RL in 2009, Polandov served as deputy editor-in-chief for the Russian daily “Gazeta,” editor for the newspaper “Business,” and editor of the political and economic section for the weekly magazine “Russian Focus,” a join project with The Economist magazine. Polandov graduated from the Finance Academy of the Russian Federation with Bachelor’s degree n Finance and a Master’s degree in Social Sciences.

Koba Liklikadze

Koba Liklikadze is a journalist with RFE/RL’s Georgian Service specializing in military and security affairs. He previously worked as a senior reporter for the independent Georgian newspaper ‘Sakartvelo," where he covered the Georgian-Abkhazian war (1992-93) and the Georgian- Russian war (2008). He also worked as an embedded journalist with KFOR in Kosovo 1999 and with the U.S.-led Coalition Operation in Iraq. Liklikadze has published numerous articles and analytical pieces on military and national security issues in the Caucasus region for the Jamestown Foundation and the Institute For War and Peace Reporting.

Expertise: Security & Military, NATO affairs

Iran

Mehdi Parpanchi

Mehdi Parpanchi joined RFE/RL in 2018 as Director of Radio Farda, RFE/RL’s Persian Service. He has over 15 years of experience in broadcast journalism, including as an anchor and editor for the BBC’s Persian TV network in London. For seven years, Parpanchi presented the flagship political discussion show “Page 2” and anchored many major breaking news stories during the controversial 2009 Iranian presidential election. He has covered the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election from Washington; the 2010 NATO Summit in Lisbon; the 2009 COP15 conference in Copenhagen; and numerous EU summits from Brussels. Parpanchi was also an editor for several special coverages by BBC Persian TV, including the 2013 Iran presidential election which received a “Highly Recommended” rating from The Association for International Broadcasting. Parpanchi has over half a million followers on Facebook and Twitter.

Niusha Boghrati

Niusha Boghrati is the editor-in-chief of Radio Farda, RFE/RL’s Persian Language Service. Boghrati joined RFE/RL in 2005, having worked for the Italian news agencies ADN Kronos International and IBER Press, and for the American online magazine World Press Review, covering issues relating to politics, culture, society, and international affairs. He began working as a journalist in Iran when he was 19, writing for "Iran Javan" magazine, which was later banned by the Islamic Republic of Iran, and later working as a Tehran-based correspondent for foreign news outlets. In Iran he also worked for the United Nations, and authored a book on jazz music, the first of its kind to be published in the country. Boghrati holds a Bachelor’s degree in English literature and a post-graduate degree in journalism, both from Iran.

Hannah Kaviani

Hannah Kaviani joined Radio Farda, RFE/RL’s Persian language service, in February 2008. She covers a variety of topics in her reporting, with a special focus on Iran's Nuclear program. Between 2013 and 2015, she covered the Iran nuclear negotiations from the field in Geneva, Munich, Vienna, Lausanne, and New York. Her reporting currently focuses on Iran’s foreign policy and the post-nuclear deal era. Kaviani holds a Bachelor's degree in politics from Azad University in Tehran. Prior to joining RFE/RL, she interned with the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin. Before that she worked in Iran on projects for UNICEF, UNHCR, and UNDP, as well as for Atieh Bahar Consulting.

Kazakhstan

Torokul Doorov

Torokul Doorov has been the Director of RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service since July 2014. He started his career with RFE/RL as a Moscow-based correspondent in 2002. Later he worked as the Kyrgyz Service’s Azattyk Plus youth program editor for several years in Bishkek. He has worked as a correspondent and presenter on Kyrgyz National TV channel’s news program and as a contributor to IRIN (Integrated Regional Information Networks) and several Kyrgyz newspapers. Doorov also conducted journalism training for the BBC, the Bishkek Press Club, Eurasia Foundation of Central Asia, and some newspapers in Kyrgyzstan. Born in the Batken region of Kyrgyzstan, he graduated from the Journalism Faculty of Moscow State University.

Kyrgyzstan

Gulaiym Ashakeeva

Gulaiym Ashakeeva is the Acting Director of RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service. She joined RFE/RL in 2005 as a freelance contributor in both the U.S. and Kyrgyzstan before moving to RFE/RL’s Prague headquarters in 2010. Ashakeeva reported from the field in Kyrgyzstan during the 2010 political crisis and ethnic clashes. She has worked with the United Nations Environment Program, conducted research on water security in Central Asia for the Budapest-based Open Society Institute and Columbia University’s Earth Institute, and served as an international project coordinator for the UNDP-supported “Democratization in Kyrgyzstan” project. Ashakeeva holds a diploma in Chemistry and Technology from Kyrgyz National University in Bishkek, and a Master’s degree in International Peace Studies from the UN-mandated University for Peace in Costa Rica.

Expertise: Political systems and analysis of Central Asia, Environmental Security in Central Asia

Kubat Kasymbekov

Kubat Kasymbekov is a journalist for RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service. He first joined RFE/RL in 2010 as a Bishkek based freelance-journalist. In 2013, he started working for the Kyrgyz Service of the BBC in London. He rejoined RFE/RL at its Prague headquarters in 2016, where he currently works as a newscaster, TV/Radio host, and video producer. Kasymbekov graduated from the Communication Faculty at Kyrgyz-Turkish Manas University in Bishkek. As a journalism student he contributed to several media outlets in Kyrgyzstan, including Kyrgyz National TV.

Expertise: Central Asia, Turkey, Open Source Investigations, and International Relation

Moldova

Oana Serafim

Oana Serafim is the Director of RFE/RL’s Moldovan Service. She was earlier the director of the joint Romanian-Moldova Service until, following Romania’s accession to the European Union in 2007, RFE/RL discontinued its Romanian broadcasts in 2008. Prior to joining RFE/RL, Serafim worked as a broadcaster for the Romanian Service of the BBC World Service. A 1979 graduate of Romania's National Academy for Film and Theatre, she has also worked at the National Film Archive in Bucharest.

Radu Benea

Radu Benea is the host of “Transdniester Dialogues,” a weekly program produced by RFE/RL’s Moldovan Service that explores key developments in Moldova and the breakaway region of Transdniester, and a veteran journalist with the Service since 1997. He has served as chief of the Service’s Chisinau bureau, and an expert commentator during election campaigns for Chisinau’s popular television channel ProTV. Benea is a graduate of the Faculty of History and Philosophy at Babes Bolyai State University in Romania’s second-largest city, Cluj-Napoca, and has taught at the School of Advanced Journalism in Chisinau.

Expertise: Politics, Economics, Transdniester conflict

Vasile Botnaru

Vasile Botnaru has served as Chisinau bureau chief for RFE/RL’s Moldovan Service since 2004. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Botnaru helped found Moldova’s first independent news agency, “BASA-press,” which he owned and led from 1993 to 2003. During this same period, he also worked as a freelance correspondent for RFE/RL’s Russian Service. Botnaru began his journalism career after graduating from Moscow State University in 1980, working for numerous print, radio, news agency, and television outlets in Moldova. In 2016, he was awarded Romania’s National Order for Faithful Service, in the rank of commander. In 2015, readers of a leading magazine named him the “most trusted opinion maker in Moldova.” The same poll had earlier ranked him among Moldova’s 50 most influential people. In 2011, Botnaru was awarded Moldova’s highest civilian national award, the Order of the Republic.

North Caucasus

Aslan Doukaev

Aslan Doukaev has served as Director of the North Caucasus Service since its inception in 2002, providing independent news and analysis to audiences in the Chechen and other North Caucasus languages. He recently oversaw the launch of the Caucasus.Realities website, which provides exclusive reporting on the region in Russian. Prior to joining RFE/RL, Doukaev was a commentator and university lecturer in the Netherlands and the U.K. on security issues and Russian policies in the North Caucasus. He holds a PhD from Moscow State University.

Valery Dzutsati

Valery Dzutsati is a journalist with RFE/RL’s North Caucasus Service, which provides independent news coverage of the Russian North Caucasus region. Previously, Valery was a Senior Non-Resident Fellow at the Jamestown Foundation in Washington, D.C., covering developments in the North Caucasus for the Eurasia Daily Monitor electronic publication. From 2002-2007, Valery was based in Vladikavkaz and coordinated media development activities for the non-profit Institute for War and Peace Reporting in the North Caucasus. Valery holds a BA in History from North Ossetia State University, an MPP from the University of Maryland, College Park, and is working toward completion of a Ph.D. in political science at Arizona State University. His research interests extend to ethnic and religious conflict, secession, and Russian and Eurasian history. Valery’s scientific articles appeared in Nationalities Papers, Politics and Religion, Post-Soviet Affairs, Social Science Quarterly, and Caucasus Survey.

Pakistan

Amin Mudaqiq

Amin Mudaqiq is the Director of RFE/RL's Pashto-language service to Pakistan's tribal regions, Radio Mashaal. He previously served as Kabul Bureau chief for RFE/RL's Afghan Service from 2004-2011. Prior to joining RFE/RL, Mudaqiq worked in the US consulate in Peshawar as an Information Assistant, and as editor of Ittilaat, the US government's Dari/Pashto publication.

Daud Khattak

Daud Khattak is Senior Editor of RFE/RL's Pakistan Service, known as Radio Mashaal. Prior to joining RFE/RL, Khattak worked in Kabul as editor for Afghanistan's daily “Pajhwok Afghan News.” He has worked for London’s “Sunday Times” and for the Pakistani English dailies “The News International” and “The Daily Times,” covering Talibanization in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region and the anti-Taliban military operations in Pakistan’s north. His analyses of the Pakistani Taliban and terrorism have been published by “The Christian Science Monitor,” “CTC Sentinel,” and The AfPak Channel, a special project of “Foreign Policy” and the New America Foundation. Khattak’s work also appears regularly on RFE/RL's "Gandhara" blog. More recently he has written on secularism in Pakistan, regional interference in Pakistan and peace talks with the Taliban. Khattak’s recently-completed research project on “Democracy and Pakistan’s Tribal Society” is being translated into Czech and will be published in 2016. Daud Khattak is a frequent contrubutor to the Diplomat.

Expertise: Pakistan, Terrorism, Ethnic Issues

Abdul Hai Kakar

Abdul Hai Kakar is a journalist with RFE/RL’s Pakistani service, Radio Mashaal. He has spent most of his two-decade long reporting career uncovering major security and political stories in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province, northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, and the adjacent Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). As a field correspondent and producer for the BBC from 2002 to 2010, Kakar reported extensively on the emergence of the Pakistani Taliban, their alliances with international terrorist organizations, and Islamabad's counterinsurgency efforts. While reporting on Taliban atrocities in the northwestern Swat Valley, he helped Noble laureate Malala Yousafzai write a blog about life under the Taliban, which helped bring her story to the world. One of his most outstanding contributions to Radio Mashaal is a series of stories on the victims of war in northwestern Pakistan. Kakar is frequently interviewed by Pakistani media and regularly contributes to various media outlets in the country to offer expert opinions on a range of issues.

Ahmad Shah Azami

Ahmad Shah Azami joined RFE/RL as a journalist for its Pashto language service Radio Mashaal in 2010. Since then he has travelled to several countries to work on investigative projects. Besides covering daily events, he produces special and investigative features on extremism, religion, youth, women, and media. He publishes articles in English, Pashto, and Urdu, which also appear on Gandhara – RFE/RL’s news site for Pakistan and Afghanistan. Prior to RFE/RL, Azami worked as an anchor person for two television channels in Pakistan, where alongside broadcasting news bulletins, he presented shows on political, social, and literary issues. He has written for newspapers and magazines in Afghanistan and Pakistan as a freelance journalist, and taught International Relations for five years at BUITEMS – a public sector university in Pakistan’s southwestern Quetta city. Azami has participated in international conferences and presented research papers on political and social issues. Besides, journalism, he is pursuing his PhD in international relations in Prague, Czech Republic.

Expertise: Afghanistan, Pakistan and FATA

Romania

Sabina Fati

Sabina Fati is Managing Editor for RFE/RL’s Romanian Service. Fati previously worked for RFE/RL in Romania in the 1990’s and has continued reporting for RFE/RL’s Moldovan Service as a freelancer. From 2006 to 2017, she was Deputy Editor for Romania’s independent newspaper, Romania Libera. Author of several books and recipient of several advanced degrees, Fati was recognized as one of Romania’s “Women of Courage” by the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest in 2017 for “her selfless pursuit to promote transparency, anti-corruption, and human rights in Romania.” Fati has a Ph.D. in history and has taught at the Department of Communication Studies at Bucharest University. She has published several books, including “Alone on the Silk Road” (Humanitas, 2015) and “Around the Black Sea in 90 days: seven countries, eight borders and a coup d’etat in prime time” (Humanitas, 2016). She has also contributed chapters to other books, most recently “The Russians are coming” (Humanitas, 2018).

Russia

Andrey Shary

Andrey Shary is is the Director of RFE/RL's Russian Service. Shary joined the company in 1992, serving as a Croatia-based freelance contributor covering the former Yugoslavia. Since 1996, he has worked at RFE/RL’s Prague headquarters as a moderator, editor and deputy director of the Service. In 2018 he oversaw the launch of the Service’s Siberia.Realities website, which provides unique reporting on this remote and strategic region. Prior to joining RFE/RL, Shary worked at several newspapers in Moscow and was published in Russian and European media. He is the author and coauthor of 13 non-fiction books, including on the contemporary
history of former Yugoslavia and other countries in central and southeastern Europe. He graduated from Moscow State Institute of International Relations with a degree in International Journalism.

Expertise: Russia, domestic politics, foreign policy

Irina Lagunina

Irina Lagunina is a senior journalist and editor of special projects for RFE/RL's Russian Service, known as Radio Svoboda. Lagunina served as director of the Russian Service until 2016 and was a host of the daily analytical radio journal “Time & World,” covering international relations, world politics, security, economic and energy issues. Before joining RFE/RL in 1995, she worked as the foreign policy and diplomatic editor for the Russian magazine “New Times” and the newspaper “Moscow News.” She was in the media pool of the Russian Foreign Ministry, covering the end of the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan, the wars in the former Yugoslavia, and ethnic conflicts in the former Soviet Union. Lagunina’s analytical writing has appeared in several compendiums, including “Perils of Perestroika: Viewpoints from the Soviet Press, 1989-1991,” and the 1999 study “Kosovo News & Propaganda War” by The International Press Institute in Austria. She has been interviewed by National Public Radio, the BBC, and other western media.

Mikhail Sokolov

Mikhail Sokolov is a political analyst, historian, and producer of the program “Face the Event” with RFE/RL’s Russian Service. Since 1990 Sokolov has worked with the Russian Service as a correspondent, analyst, and producer of the programs “Elections," “Time of Politics,” and “Life Continuity.” Sokolov graduated with a degree in journalism from Moscow State University and got his Ph.D in history at the Historical Archives Institute of the Russian State Humanities University. He is the author of studies on the history of Russian emigration in the 20th century and the book The Temptation of Activism: Russian Republican-Democratic Emigration in the 20s and 30s.

Sergey Khazov-Cassia

Sergey Khazov-Cassia is a special correspondent for RFE/RL's Russian Service since 2015. He was born in Leningrad in 1980 and graduated from the Journalism School of Moscow State University. Before joining RFE/RL, Khazov-Cassia worked as a special correspondent for The New Times magazine in Moscow. Sergey was a laureate of the European Press Prize in 2013 and of the Nationwide Contest for Young Foreign-Affairs Journalists in 2014. His spheres of interest include minorities, grassroots activism, LGBT rights, feminism, the Russian judicial system, and issues related to Russian law enforcement agencies. He is an author of two novels: Another Childhood and Gospel From. He is fluent in English and French.

Expertise: minorities, grassroots activism, LGBT rights, feminism, and the Russian judicial system

Jaroslav Shimov

Jaroslav Shimov has been a journalist with RFE/RL's Russian Service, based in Prague, since 1999. He specializes in Russian foreign policy, Central and Eastern European politics and history, and Russian relations in the region. Shimov was born in Belarus and studied history and journalism at Moscow State University. He has published three books on the history of the Hapsburg Empire and its successor states.

Southwest Asia Regional

Mardo Soghom

Mardo Soghom is the Deputy Editor in Chief and Regional Director for Southwest Asia, overseeing the work of RFE/RL's Persian Service, known as Radio Farda, the Afghan Service, and the Pashto-language service Radio Mashaal. He joined RFE/RL in 1989 as a special correspondent in New York City, later becoming director of RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. In 2002, he helped launch Radio Farda as its news director. Soghom was born in Iran, completed his undergraduate studies in Lebanon, and holds an M.A. and M.Phil in Political Science from Columbia University.

Tajikistan

Salimjon Aioubov

Salimjon Aioubov was appointed Acting Director of RFE/RL's Tajik Service in April 2019. Previously, he was a senior broadcaster with RFE/RL's Tajik Service, and also Project Director for RFE/RL's Central Asian Newswire, a platform that aggregates original RFE/RL reporting and other information for Central Asian media seeking independent news. Aioubov has worked for numerous Tajik print, radio, and television outlets over the course of two decades, covering the civil war in Tajikistan and UN-mediated inter-Tajik peace talks and refugee issues resulting from the war, Organization of Islamic Cooperation conferences, and Shanghai Cooperation Organization summits. He has produced two short documentaries on Tajik issues, "Mi, Pereselentsi" (1986) and "Perpetual Returning" (1989), and published several books, most recently, “A Hundred Colors: Tajiks in the 20th Century" (Amsterdam, 2004). He graduated from Tajik State University in 1982 with a B.A. in journalism.

Khiromon Bakoeva

Khiromon Bakoeva is an editor with RFE/RL’s Tajik service, known locally as Radio Ozodi. Having joined the Service in 2003, she currently edits its Russian-language website, a platform that provides news and analysis for Russian speakers inside the country and Tajik migrant laborers abroad. She also moderates the Service’s Perekrestok show, a TV program analyzing issues in Central Asia. She earlier launched a successful youth program for the Service, drawing on a talented team of young journalists in Tajikistan. Prior to joining RFE/RL, Bakoeva worked as a reporter for the private news agency Asia-Plus, and was a coordinator at the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) Dushanbe office. She graduated from Tajik State University with a degree in philology.

Expertise: Tajikistan, Politics, Womens issues

Zafar Abdullaev

Zafar Abdullaev joined RFE/RL in 2018 as a social media producer for the Tajik Service. He produces video content specifically geared for social media use across platforms, monitors the web and agencies for news leads, and develops news stories. He was previously the owner and editor of the Avesta.Tj news agency and newspaper Fakti&Kommentarii (Facts&Comments) in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Zafar is a co-founder of the Tajik Media Alliance Journalists’ Association and a nominee of the Vopreki Journalism Award (Russia, 2004). He has a degree in Economics from the Tajik State Institute of Business and Service, and expertise in domestic economics.

Tatar-Bashkir

Rim Gilfanov

Rim Gilfanov has been the Director of RFE/RL’s Tatar-Bashkir Service since 2006. He began reporting for the Service in 1990 as a stringer and later as a broadcaster covering ethnic and religious minority issues. Gilfanov previously wrote for the Kazan newspaper "Donya," and has published several books, including "Tatar Diaspora" (Kazan, 1993) and "Tatar Way in Reforming Islam" (Prague, April 2003). He is frequently interviewed by local Tatar media outlets. Gilfanov is a 1991 graduate of Kazan State University with a degree in sociology and political science.

Alsu Kurmasheva

Alsu Kurmasheva is an editor with RFE/RL’s Tatar-Bashkir Service and manager of its new regional, Russian-language micro-site. Having joined RFE/RL in 1998, she focuses her reporting on issues within the Volga Tatar, Bashkir, and Crimean Tatar communities, with a special emphasis on ethnic and religious minority rights. Kurmasheva is regularly invited to provide expert analysis on these topics at international conferences and seminars, and her work has been published in U.S. and European media. She holds a B.A. in English and Turkish philology from Kazan Federal University in Tatarstan and a Bachelor of Business Administration from New York University in Prague.

Turkmenistan

Farruh Yusupov

Farruh Yusupov is Acting Director of RFE/RL’s Turkmen Service. He originally joined RFE/RL in 2004, working as an editor with the Uzbek Service and providing major contributions to its investigative work, including a series of reports on corruption involving members of Uzbek President Islam Karimov’s family. Yusupov also launched several radio programs for the Uzbek Service, including “Health,” “The Other Side of the Coin,” and “OzodNavigator.” His 2007 radio documentary, “Uzbekistan and its Neighbors After Andijon,” was nominated for an AIB award. Before joining RFE/RL, Yusupov worked for USAID-funded projects in Uzbekistan. He has an M.A. in Linguistics from Ferghana State University, Uzbekistan.

Ukraine

Maryana Drach

Maryana Drach is the Director of RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, overseeing the Service’s award-winning coverage of the country’s 2013-2014 Maidan demonstrations, Revolution of Dignity, and developments since. Under her watch, the Service has launched the impactful anti-corruption reporting project “Schemes: Corruption in Details,” as well as multiple-media programming efforts for the residents of Russia-annexed Crimea (Crimea.Realities) and war-torn eastern Ukraine (Donbas.Realities). A native of Kyiv, Drach joined the service in 1996, specializing in international affairs. She earned an undergraduate degree in international studies from Roosevelt University and holds a graduate degree in in Public Administration from the Institute of Public Administration and Local Government in Ukraine.

Natalia Churikova

Natalia Churikova is a senior editor with RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service. Churikova joined RFE/RL in 1995 as an economic correspondent with an interest in foreign policy, especially European and Euro-Atlantic integration. In 2005, she started a program “European Liberty,” which later became the interactive “Europe Connect” project, which explored topics relevant to Ukraine’s move towards Europe. In 2007, Churikova led RFE/RL-wide peer training efforts, providing mentoring and instruction to dozens of staff and free-lance journalists from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the North Caucasus, Moldova, Tatarstan and Ukraine. Early in her career, she won a Sander Thoenes Fellowship at The Financial Times, earning the opportunity to report for the FT in London, Brussels and Frankfurt. Churikova has commented on Ukrainian issues for Czech media and at international conferences.

Expertise: Ukraine-EU relations, ethnic and religious relations in Ukraine

Natalie Sedletska

Natalie Sedletska is an award-winning investigative journalist and host of “Schemes: Corruption in Details,” a weekly program of RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service and Ukrainian First National TV channel. In 2013 she was awarded a Vaclav Havel Journalism Fellowship to work with RFE/RL in Prague, a program sponsored by the Czech Foreign Ministry and RFE/RL. From 2009-2013, Sedletska was a correspondent for Ukraine’s TVi channel, where she worked on such programs as “Tender News,” a hard-hitting program reporting on corruption and public procurement. She was also an investigator and coordinator for the YanukovychLeaks initiative during 2014. Sedletska is a member of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community, and the Stop Censorship journalism movement in Ukraine.

Expertise: Ukraine, anti-corruption issues

Rostyslav Khotin

Rostyslav Khotin joined RFE/RL in 2014 and is now Senior Editor of the Ukrainian Service. He covers in particular Ukraine's foreign policy, Kyiv's relations with the EU and NATO, Ukrainian-Russian relations, international efforts to resolve conflict in Eastern Ukraine and the stand-off over Crimea, Eastern and Central Europe as well as Ukraine-US relations, and developments in the new independent states in post-Soviet territory. Before moving to Prague he worked in Brussels as a Correspondent for 1+1 TV Channel and UNIAN news agency covering the EU and NATO, prior to which he worked as Editor at the BBC World Service in London. In the 1990s he worked in Kyiv for Reuters news agency as Ukraine/Belarus/Moldova Correspondent and traveled extensively across the region -- from the Baltics to Caucasus and Central Asia. Rostyslav is a graduate of Kyiv State University.

Andriy Dikhtiarenko

Andriy Dikhtiarenko is a journalist and host for Donbas.Realities, a weekly program of RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service and Ukrainian 112 TV channel. Dikhtiarenko is also the editor of Letters From Occupied Donbas, a blog platform of RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service for people who live in the territory under control of Russian-backed forces in the Donbas region since 2014. Andriy specializes in the zone of conflict in Eastern Ukraine, and in problems of internally displaced people. He investigates life, economics, and policy in the territory under control of Russian-backed forces in the Donbas region. Andriy Dikhtiarenko is Chief Editor of Luhansk media Realnaja Gazeta since 2013.

Expertise: Donbas, hybrid war

Uzbekistan

Alisher Siddique

Alisher Siddique is the Director of RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service. Under his leadership, the service has become a pioneer in using the latest digital platforms to break the information blockade in one of the world’s most closed societies. Sidikov reported on the Andijon massacre in Uzbekistan in 2005, and earlier worked for the BBC’s Uzbek service in Tashkent and London. He was named “Journalist of the Year” by Reporters Without Borders-Stockholm in 2005. He holds an M.A. and B.A. in Middle East Politics and Arabic Studies from the University of Oriental Studies in Tashkent.

Sirojiddin Tolibov

Sirojiddin Tolibov joined RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service in February 2015, where he has since been responsible for video content. Having reported on operations against Islamic militants from the main hot spots in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan throughout his journalistic career, he is an expert on security matters, Islamic groups, human rights, and social and economic issues in Central Asia. Hundreds of his articles have been published across the globe in English, Russian, Persian, Turkish, and Uzbek. Prior to RFE/RL, Tolibov spent 20 years with the BBC World Service’s Central Asian unit as a reporter, manager, news anchor, and editor. In 2001, he was announced the Service’s Best Reporter. He has also performed leading roles in award winning BBC radio dramas. Tolibov graduated from the Tashkent State Institute of Oriental Studies.

Expertise: security matters, Islamic groups, human rights, and social and economic issues

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