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RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service

RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service is one of the few independent media outlets reporting in this predominantly Muslim region, one of the most repressive in Russia, where journalists remain under severe threat.

Fast Facts

  • Operates Kavkaz.Realii, Russian-language website that provides uncensored news, and Marsho Radio, the only international Chechen-language broadcaster that covers tough issues under Ramzan Kadyrov’s regime.
  • Recent coverage centers on how the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine affects the region.
  • Published a comprehensive list of servicemen and others from the region killed in battle, informing both readers and other media.
  • Wrote about people who were kidnapped in Chechnya to be sent to war.
  • Service published well-researched stories on forced mobilization from Chechnya to war in Ukraine. Over 300 videos depicted mass looting by soldiers.
  • Service’s correspondents are regularly subjected to threats and intimidation. Anyone viewed as a potential threat to the local leadership or crossing “red lines” can be imprisoned.
  • Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index ranks Russia, including the North Caucasus, 155th out of 180 countries. According to the survey, “Chechnya has become a ‘black hole’ from which little news and information emerges.”


January – December, 2021

  • Website​:
    • Chechen: 136,000 visits; 324,000 page views
    • Russian: 8.3 million visits; 11.5 million page views
  • Facebook:
    • Chechen: 178,000 video views; nearly 400,000 engaged users
    • Russian: 19.2 million video views; 3 million engaged users
  • YouTube:
    • Chechen: 9.5 million views; 55,500 subscribers
    • Russian: 29.7 million views; 93,200 subscribers
  • Instagram:
    • Chechen: 208,000 video views; 14,500 followers
    • Russian: 2.9 million video views; 24,000 followers

Facts & Stats about Russia

  • Global Freedom Index (Russia) (Freedom House): Not Free, ranked 19 out of 100 (2022)
  • Press Freedom Index (Russia) (RSF): 155 out of 180 (2022)
  • Corruption Index (Transparency Int.): 136 out of 180 (2021)
  • Global Peace Index (IES): 160 out of 163 (2022)
  • Human Rights Watch: Report on Russia (2020)
  • Amnesty International: Russia Report (2021)

Facts & Stats about Chechnya

  • Population: 1,268,989 (2010 census)
  • Ethnic Groups: Chechen, Russian, others
  • Religions: Sunni Muslim, Eastern Orthodox
  • Languages: Chechen, Russian, others

Facts & Stats about Dagestan

  • Population: 2,910,249 (2010 census)
  • Ethnic Groups:Northeast Caucasians (Avar, Dargin, Lezgin, others); Turkic and others (Kumyk, Nogai, Azeri, and others); Russian
  • Religions: Sunni Muslim, Eastern Orthodox
  • Languages: Russian, over 30 others (11 indigenous)

Facts & Stats about Ingushetia

  • Population: 412,529 (2010 census)
  • Ethnic Groups: Ingush, Chechen, Russian, other
  • Religions: Sunni Muslim, Eastern Orthodox
  • Langagues: Ingush, Russian

Facts & Stats about Kabardino-Balkaria

  • Population: 859,939 (2010 census)
  • Ethnic Groups: Kabardin, Russian, Balkar, other
  • Religions: Sunni Muslim, Eastern Orthodox
  • Languages: Kabardin, Balkar, Russian

Facts & Stats about Karachay-Cherkessia

  • Population: 477,859 (2010 census)
  • Ethnic Groups: Karachai, Russian, Cherkess, Abazin, Nogai, other
  • Religions: Sunni Muslim, Eastern Orthodox
  • Languages: Karachai, Cherkess, Russian, others​

Updated: October 2022

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