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RFE/RL’s Tatar-Bashkir Service: Radio Azatliq

Radio Azatliq is the only major international news provider reporting in the Tatar and Bashkir languages to audiences in the Russian Federation’s multi-ethnic, Muslim-majority Volga-Ural region.

Fast Facts

  • The Tatar-Bashkir Service has served Russia’s strategic, energy-rich, Muslim majority Volga-Ural region since 1953, providing an important and innovative alternative to government-controlled media that promote a nationalist and isolationist agenda.
  • The Service, operating entirely on digital platforms, covers regional and local news, while pursuing under-reported stories, including on gender and corruption. It also provides audiences a unique perspective on center-regional relations, reporting on Russia’s policies toward ethnic and religious minorities, the centralizing tendencies of the federal government, religious freedom, cultural heritage, and the role of Islam in Russia’s predominantly Muslim regions.
  • Amid efforts by the Kremlin to downgrade the use of the Tatar language in schools, the Service in 2018 launched Eide!Online, a multimedia project that teaches modern Tatar online. The project, including text, video, multimedia stories, and audio podcasts, attracted 1.2 million unique visits on the Russian social network VKontakte in its first year.
  • In 2016 the Service launched the Russian-language regional website Idel.Realii to provide Russian-speaking audiences in the multi-ethnic region with an independent alternative to the government-controlled press. The site has become a consistent source of high-impact reporting on corruption. It also tackles religious extremism and environmental issues, despite efforts by local authorities to prevent such coverage. Correspondents with the website have been frequently subject to harassment and threats.
  • The Tatar-Bashkir Service, along with RFE/RL’s other language services in Russia, was designated a “Foreign Agent” by Russia’s justice ministry in 2017.
  • Tatarstan and Bashkortostan are included in press freedom rankings for Russia, which Freedom House designated as Not Free in its 2017 Freedom of the Press report (174th of 198 countries).

Impact

January – December, 2019

  • Website (Russian and Tatar): 3.7 million visits; 6.4 million page views
  • Facebook (Russian and Tatar)​: 2.3 million video views; 800,000 engaged users; 20,000 followers
  • YouTube: 5.3 million views; 29,000 subscribers
  • Instagram: 635,000 video views; 29,000 IGTV views; 26,000 followers

Updated: March 2020

Facts & Stats about Russia

  • Press Freedom Index (Russia) (Freedom House): Not Free, ranked 174 out of 198 (2017)
  • Press Freedom Index (Russia) (RSF): 149th out of 180 (2019)
  • Corruption Index (Transparency Int.): 137 out of 180 (2019)
  • Global Peace Index (IES): 154 out of 163 (2019)
  • Human Rights Watch: Report on Russia (2019)
  • Amnesty International: Russia Report (2017/2018)

Facts & Stats about Tatarstan

  • Population: 3,786,488 (2010 census)
  • Most Common Languages: Tatar, Russian

Facts & Stats about Bashkortostan

  • Population: 4,072,292 (2010 census)
  • Most Common Languages: Russian, Tatar, Bashkir

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