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RFE/RL’s Turkmen Service: Radio Azatlyk

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, YouTube, social media)
  • Coverage: Internet & satellite, 8 hours daily; SW, 2 hours daily
  • Location: Prague
  • Staff: 6 (Prague), 10 stringers

Media Environment

  • Freedom House Freedom of the Press Ranking, 2017: Not Free (98th/100). Consistently ranked among Freedom House's "Worst of the Worst" repressive societies.
  • Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index, 2017: 178th/180.
  • 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.

- In 2006, correspondent Ogulsapar Muradova died under unexplained circumstances in a Turkmen prison.
- In 2015 Saparmamet Nepeskuliev was detained and consequently sentenced to three years in prison on charges of possessing illegal pharmaceuticals. He has been held incommunicado since July 2015.
- On December 3, 2016, RFE/RL correspondent in the Dashoguz province Khudayberdy Allashov, 27, and his mother were arrested on charges of possessing chewing tobacco. Allashov was severely beaten and subjected to other forms of torture. He and his mother are also held incommunicado.
- Another RFE/RL correspondent, Soltan Achilova, 67, was attacked three times in one month.

  • As Azatlyk’s popularity has grown within Turkmenistan, authorities have intensified their pressure on the Service’s local correspondents. In 2015, Service freelancers have been questioned, detained, and otherwise harassed, and several have been forced to suspend their cooperation with Azatlyk.

Highlights

  • Radio Azatlyk is the only international and independent media outlet reporting on Turkmenistan in the Turkmen language. We are the main source of independent and reliable information about what happens in the country for audiences both inside Turkmenistan and abroad. Recently Azatlyk launched its Russian language website and has already started attracting tens of thousands of monthly visitors.
  • Azatlyk is one of the few outlets providing regular multimedia reporting from inside the country, with original video reporting and photojournalism.
  • The average number of monthly visits to Azatlyk’s website is over 300,000. Similarly, the number of “likes’ on Azatlyk’s Facebook page has grown from 217 in 2011 to almost 167,000 today. Newly created YouTube and VKontakte pages are also rapidly gaining large audiences.
  • Radio Azatlyk’s coverage of economic and social problems, like food shortages, wage arrears, forced labor, homelessness, housing conditions, and travel restrictions on Turkmen citizens has on several occasions prompted government action to improve facilities and social services.

Updated: 1 May 2017

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