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RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service: Radio Azadliq

Despite near-total government control over the media, Radio Azadliq has built a high-impact social media presence in Azerbaijan and a reputation as a leading source of independent news.

Fast Facts

  • Radio Azadliq has a venerable reputation inside the country, including as the Azerbaijani-language broadcaster that first reported the country’s independence in 1991. Successive measures implemented by the government over the last decade have sought to blunt the service’s impact, particularly its widely cited reporting on corruption tied to the ruling family, political prisoners, and electoral fraud.
  • In December 2008, the government banned all international broadcasters including Radio Azadliq, the BBC, and Voice of America from broadcasting on local FM and MW frequencies.
  • Award-winning RFE/RL contributor Khadija Ismayilova was imprisoned for 16 months in 2014 in retaliation for her investigative reporting and remains banned from leaving the country. Ismayilova was awarded the 2015 “Barbara Goldsmith Freedom To Write Award” by PEN American Center.
  • On December 26, 2014, Azerbaijani police raided and sealed RFE/RL's Baku bureau citing charges that were thrown out by an Azeri court. The bureau remains closed, and RFE/RL local correspondents continue to be harassed by Azerbaijani officials.
  • Radio Azadliq’s website azadliq.org has been under a court-ordered ban since May 2017 on claims that it poses “a threat” to Azerbaijan’s national security. The ban continued through the country's April 2018 presidential election.
  • Radio Azadliq’s investigative reports on senior officials’ family businesses and offshore accounts linked to President Ilham Aliyev’s family have been widely cited by major US and UK media.
  • In press freedom rankings, Azerbaijan is designated Not Free by Freedom House, and ranked 190/198.

Impact

January – December, 2018

  • Website and Apps: 1.6 million visits, and 3.1 million page views
  • Facebook: In Azeri: 25.6 million video views, 482,300 total fans; In Russian: 150,000 video views, over 10,000 total
  • YouTube: 67 million views, and nearly 283,000 subscribers; the top YouTube site in Azerbaijan (per Socialbakers)
  • Twitter: Over 25,500 followers
  • Instagram: 52.9 million video views, 4.9 million impressions, and 75,340 followers
  • Combined Video Views: 87 million views across Azadliq online platforms (+22% over 2017)

Updated: April 2019

Facts & Stats about Azerbaijan

  • Population: 9.85 million (World Bank estimate, 2017)
  • Most Common Languages: Azeri, Armenian, Russian, Lezgi,
  • Press Freedom Index (Freedom House): Not Free, ranked 190 out of 198 (2017)
  • Press Freedom Index (RSF): 166 out of 180 (2019)
  • Corruption Index (Transparency Int.): 152 out of 180 (2018)
  • Global Peace Index (IES): 132 out of 163 (2018)
  • Human Rights Watch: Report on Azerbaijan (2019)
  • Amnesty International: Azerbaijan Report (2017/2018)​

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