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RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service: Radio Azattyq

Radio Azattyq offers informed and accurate reporting in Kazakh and Russian languages about issues that matter in Kazakhstan, while providing a dynamic platform for audience engagement and the free exchange of news and ideas.

Fast Facts

  • RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service, established in 1953, operates out of bureaus in Kazakhstan’s capital city Nur-Sultan and in the largest city, Almaty, serving as a trusted, independent, and alternative source of local, regional, and national news for millions of residents in a country where the government overwhelmingly seeks to control the press.
  • The Service routinely breaks news, including stories on political prisoners, rights activists, and public and labor protests. In May 2020, it broke the story of government manipulation of the death toll from COVID-19 when authorities of several regions of the country tried to lower the true extent of the pandemic. Its reporting on the abusive treatment of Kazakh communities in western China has helped bring international attention to the issue. Its coverage of a deadly house fire that killed a family’s five children led to public protests and the resignation of the government.
  • In June 2019, the service’s YouTube channel registered a one-day record for video views – 5.2 million views – for its live coverage of protest rallies during the snap presidential elections after Nursultan Nazarbayev’s surprise resignation.
  • Reporter Saniya Toiken was honored in 2017 with the International Women’s Media Foundation Courage in Journalism Award.
  • Reporters Without Borders ranks Kazakhstan 157th among 180 countries it surveys, and states that even though Nursultan Nazarbaev stepped down after three decades as President in March 2019, “he continues to be ‘Leader of the Nation’ and to exercise supreme control over Kazakhstan’s future.” Criticizing the president is a criminal offense.


January – December, 2020

  • Website (in Kazakh and Russian): 50.8 million visits; 71 million page views; 22.5 million unique visitors
  • Facebook (in Kazakh and Russian): 127.8 million video views; 21.8 million engaged users; 321,400 followers
  • YouTube (in Kazakh and Russian): 118.5 million views; 971,000 subscribers
  • Instagram (in Kazakh and Russian): 63.1 million video views; 46.4 million IGTV views; 523,925 followers

Updated: January 2021

Facts & Stats about Kazakhstan

  • Population: 18.51 million (World Bank estimate, 2019)
  • Most Common Languages: Russian, Kazakh, Ukranian, Uyghur, German
  • Global Freedom Index (Freedom House): Not Free, ranked 23 out of 100 (2020)
  • Press Freedom Index (RSF): 155 out of 180 (2021)
  • Corruption Index (Transparency Int.): 94 out of 180 (2020)
  • Global Peace Index (IES): 70 out of 163 (2020)
  • Human Rights Watch: Report on Kazakhstan (2020)
  • Amnesty International: Kazakhstan Report (2021)

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