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RFE/RL’s Belarusian Service: Radio Svaboda

RFE/RL's Radio Svaboda is one of the leading providers of news and analysis to Belarusian audiences in their language. It counters pervasive disinformation and is a trailblazer on social media.

Fast Facts

  • RFE/RL’s Belarus Service, Radio Svaboda, was first established in 1954. Based in RFE/RL's headquarters in Prague and in a new bureau in Vilnius, Lithuania, Radio Svaboda reports news in a closed society.
  • Three RFE/RL journalists are currently imprisoned in Belarus on fabricated charges by an authoritarian regime seeking to silence independent journalism: Ihar Losik, Aleh Hruzdzilovich, and Andrey Kuznechyk. View this RFE/RL video to learn more about these brave journalists.
  • Losik was added to a “terrorist watch list” in June 2022, which RFE/RL President and CEO Jamie Fly called "an egregious abuse of the state’s authority and underlines the Lukashenka regime’s contempt for journalists who expose the truth.”
  • Numerous journalists covering Lukashenka’s fraudulent August 2020 reelection were harassed, detained, and stripped of their accreditations. Radio Svaboda’s website was blocked and RFE/RL's Minsk bureau was raided and sealed in July 2021.
  • In December 2021 Belarus's Interior Ministry added Radio Svaboda to its registry of extremist organizations, criminalizing the distribution of all content. Belarusian subscribers face up to six years in prisons for accessing RFE/RL content.
  • Radio Svaboda broke news about Russia’s troop build-up in Belarus in advance of invading Ukraine. This coverage is part of regular news and analysis debunking the Lukashenka regime’s pro-war propaganda.
  • An investigative story reported heavy Russian losses in Ukraine based on information about the dead or wounded in Belarusian hospitals and morgues and was quoted by international media. Radio Svaboda also reported on railway guerrillas and anti-war protests inside the country.
  • Reporters Without Borders’ 2022 World Press Freedom Index ranks Belarus 153rd out of 180 countries, stating “Belarus is the most dangerous country in Europe for media personnel.”

Impact

January – December, 2021

  • Website: 12.9 million visits; 22.7 million page views
  • Facebook: 25.9 million video views; 6.5 million engaged users
  • YouTube: 17.9 million views, 216,000 subscribers; Premium subscription: 13.3 million views, 60,600 subscribers
  • Instagram: 63.5 million video views; Nearly 300,000 followers

Updated: July, 2022

Facts & Stats about Belarus

  • Population: 9.42 Million (World Bank estimate, 2019)
  • Most Common Languages: Belarusian, Russian, Ukranian, Polish, Yiddish
  • Global Freedom Index (Freedom House): Not Free, ranked 8 out of 100 (2022)
  • Press Freedom Index (RSF): 153 out of 180 (2022)
  • Corruption Index (Transparency Int.): 82 out of 180 (2021)
  • Global Peace Index (IES): 116 out of 163 (2022)
  • Human Rights Watch: Report on Belarus (2019)
  • Amnesty International: Belarus Report (2021)​

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