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RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service: Radio Ozodlik

Radio Ozodlik relies on innovation and a wide network of local sources and platforms to uncover news and engage with audiences in one of the world’s most restrictive societies.

Fast Facts

  • Established in 1953, RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service is an essential source of independent news and information for audiences that are otherwise dependent on official media. It is unique in bringing “accountability journalism” to its audiences, and in countering government disinformation and Russian propaganda inside the country.
  • The Service was forced to close its Tashkent bureau after reporting on the May 2005 massacre in Andijon. Operations were transferred to Prague, and remain there, while relying on local networks in every region of the country to help gather, verify, distribute, and share information. The Service has launched a microsite, Telegram From You, to post this content in order to draw attention to citizens’ most acute challenges and alert authorities to problems.
  • Ozodlik investigations have led to the dismissals of several top officials, including the country’s vice premier and the Tashkent chief of police, together with changes in state policy. Since 2014, Ozodlik has worked with the Sarajevo-based Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project to investigate cases of corruption and money-laundering involving high-ranking officials.
  • The Ozodlik documentary series, Unbroken, won a 2018 RFE/RL juried prize for its portrayal of political prisoners under the regime of late President Islam Karimov.
  • The Uzbek Service was awarded the 2017 David Burke award for journalistic excellence.
  • Ozodlik’s reporting on the 2017 Stockholm terror attack sparked a nationwide discussion on immigration, extremism, and law enforcement in Sweden.
  • Ozodlik’s website remains banned, despite a May 2019 decision by the government to lift a block on other international news and NGO websites.
  • Freedom House ranked Uzbekistan 197 of 199 countries in its 2017 Freedom of the Press Index and designated it “Not Free.” In its 2019 press freedom index, Reporters Without Borders ranked Uzbekistan 160 of 180 countries surveyed, noting: “But criticizing the highest level of government is still out of the question.”

Impact

January – December, 2018

  • Website: 14.4 million visits (Uzbek and Russian), 48.2 million page views, 3.3 million unique visitors
  • Facebook: Uzbek: 52.1 million video views, 453,400 followers; Russian: 14.8 million video views, 190,500 followers
  • YouTube: 196.6 million views, 395,649 subscribers
  • Instagram: Uzbek: 3.6 million views, 257,400 followers
  • Twitter: 5.3 million impressions; 101,200 engagements

Updated: May 2019

Facts & Stats about Uzbekistan

  • Population: 32.39 million (World Bank estimate, 2017)
  • Most Common Languages: Uzbek, Russian, Tajik, Kazakh
  • Press Freedom Index (Freedom House): Not Free, ranked 197 out of 198 (2017)
  • Press Freedom Index (RSF): 160 out of 180 (2019)
  • Corruption Index (Transparency Int.): 158 out of 180 (2018)
  • Global Peace Index (IES): 104 out of 163 (2018)
  • Human Rights Watch: Report on Uzbekistan (2019)
  • Amnesty International: Uzbekistan Report (2017/2018)

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