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RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service: Radio Azattyk

Radio Azattyk is an award-winning, multimedia source of independent news and informed debate in Kyrgyzstan, covering major stories and under-reported topics, including women, minority rights, high-level corruption, and religious radicalism.

Fast Facts

  • RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service, operating out of a state-of-the-art bureau in Bishkek, has been a media leader in Kyrgyzstan for decades — pioneering live TV news coverage, field-reporting, and dynamic programs focusing on women and youth in an increasingly competitive media environment.
  • It produces ten 30-minute TV shows every week that are carried on public and private channels and by a network of 12 affiliates, airs three hours of nationwide broadcasts on FM every day, and manages its own Russian- and Kyrgyz-language websites as well as content pages on seven social media platforms.
  • The Service is distinguished for its unflinching reporting on corruption, embezzlement, and abuse of authority by state officials, including former presidents Almazbek Atambaev and Kurmanbek Bakiev. Its reputation builds on the investigative work of Ulanbek Egizbaev, a journalist with the Service who died in 2017. Egizbaev was posthumously awarded the national Medal of Courage by the president of Kyrgyzstan, and the US Agency for Global Media’s David Burke award for courage and excellence in journalism. Kyrgyz Service freelancer Ydyrys Isakov won the 2019 Egizbayev Prize, named after the late RFE/RL journalist and awarded by the Investigative Journalism Foundation in Kyrgyzstan, for his video reporting on mafia activity in the Kyrgyz city of Osh.
  • The Service has also won accolades for its reporting on women and youth. Reporter Aliya Suranova was selected as a finalist for the annual 2018 New York Festivals International Radio Program Awards for her talkshow, Sisterhood, while correspondent Nurjan Toktonazarova was recognized by the UN World Food Program for online reports on gender equality issues.
  • While the media in Kyrgyzstan has traditionally enjoyed greater freedom than counterparts elsewhere in Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan was designated Not Free by Freedom House in 2018 and ranked 148/198. Political, ethnic, and regional biases and influence remain a problem, and lawsuits have been used by oligarchs and officials to suppress investigations.


January – December, 2019

  • Website (in Kyrgyz and Russian): 20.5 million visits; 42.8 million page views
  • Facebook (in Kyrgyz and Russian)​: 46.6 million video views; 410,000 followers; 14.7 million engaged users
  • YouTube (in Kyrgyz and Russian)​: 106 million views; 876,600 subscribers
  • Instagram (in Kyrgyz and Russian)​: 78.2 million video views; 96.8 million IGTV views; 1.78 million followers
  • Twitter (in Kyrgyz and Russian)​: 25,800 followers

Updated: March 2020

Facts & Stats about Kyrgyzstan

  • Population: 6.32 million (World Bank estimate, 2018)
  • Most Common Languages: Kyrgyz, Uzbek, Russian, Dungun
  • Press Freedom Index (Freedom House): Not Free, 148 out of 198 (2017)
  • Press Freedom Index (RSF): 83 out of 180 (2019)
  • Corruption Index (Transparency Int.): 126 out of 180 (2019)
  • Global Peace Index (IES): 95 out of 163 (2019)
  • Human Rights Watch: Report on Kyrgyzstan (2019)
  • Amnesty International: Kyrgyzstan Report (2017/2018)

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