Accessibility links

Breaking News

RFE/RL’s Russian Service: Radio Svoboda

Radio Svoboda is a multiplatform alternative to Russian state-controlled media, providing audiences in the Russian Federation with informed and accurate news, analysis, and opinion.

Fast Facts

  • RFE/RL’s Russian Service has played a historic role among Russian-speaking audiences since 1953, showcasing independent voices, and providing critical discussion of current affairs while countering disinformation.
  • Physically present in Russia since 1991, RFE/RL was forced to suspend its operations in the country after local tax authorities demanded that the courts begin bankruptcy proceedings against its Russian entity in March 2022.
  • Despite the blocking of the Russian Service’s websites in March 2022, audiences have continued to seek out its content and truthful reporting about the war against Ukraine.
  • When Russian authorities claimed the crew of the sunken Moskva cruiser was safe, the Service’s reporters uncovered evidence that proved the contrary.
  • Compared to the same period in 2021, page views of the Russian Service’s websites increased by 21% to 101.3 million in the three months since the invasion of Ukraine. Views of the Service’s YouTube channels increased by 1500% (more than 15 times) to 530.4 million. In March 2022, Radio Svoboda received a monthly record of over 18 million web hits.
  • Following the forced suspension of its operations in Russia, RFE/RL is establishing a new office in Riga. In addition to hosting staff displaced from Russia, the Latvian capital will house a new, Russian-language investigative journalism unit and a digital innovation hub designed to counter disinformation and circumvent online censorship across delivery platforms.
  • Radio Svoboda provides critically acclaimed investigative reporting about corruption, theft, political killings, and illegal activity in Russian political and business spheres.
  • A 2022 investigative series, The Committee Men, reveals details of corruption scandals and scams that swirled around Vladimir Putin and his associates as he began his political ascent.
  • In 2017, the Kremlin designated the Russian Service and its units as “foreign agents.” RFE/RL condemned the move and appealed to the European Court of Human Rights. As of June 2022, 27 RFE/RL contributors have also been designated individual “foreign agents.”
  • Russian authorities have imposed over $17 million in fines on RFE/RL for its refusal to comply with “foreign agent” labelling rules or to censor its content.
  • Russia ranks 155th out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ press freedom rankings.


January – December, 2021

(Includes Radio Svoboda, Sibir.Realii and Sever.Realii)

  • Website: 152.1 million visits; 247.7 million page views
  • Facebook: 60.4 million video views; almost 12 million engaged users
  • YouTube: 192.8 million views; over 1.3 million subscribers
  • Instagram: 1 million video views; 273,100 followers
  • Other Social Networks: The service is also active on Telegram, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Castbox, SoundCloud

Updated: June 2022

Facts & Stats about Russia

  • Population: 144.4 million (World Bank estimate, 2019)​
  • Most Common Languages: Russian, more than 100 minority languages of which 27 are considered official​
  • Global Freedom Index (Freedom House): Not Free, ranked 20 out of 100 (2020)​
  • Press Freedom Index (RSF): 150 out of 180 (2021)​
  • Corruption Index (Transparency Int.): 129 out of 180 (2020)​
  • Global Peace Index (IES): 154 out of 163 (2020)​
  • Human Rights Watch: Report on Russia (2020)​
  • Amnesty International: Russia Report (2021)

Follow Radio Svoboda

Follow Follow Follow