As of today, radio is one of few ways to stay in touch with people who live in Crimea and in the east of Ukraine. Representatives of the majority of radio broadcasters working there say that it is really important. Radio must continue broadcasting, despite intimidation of the occupational authorities and ambiguous opinion of local people. “Even if someone disagrees, he will listen and try to understand the opposing point of view. This is what paves the way to unity” stressed Inna Kuznetsova, senior editor at “Radio Svoboda” at a discussion at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
Radio gives an opportunity to hear the voices of Crimean Tatars who stay in the occupied peninsula, says Gayana Yuksel, senior editor of “Crimean News” agency and radio “Khayat”. They now broadcast 80 percent of the time in Ukrainian and 20 percent in Crimean Tatar language. “Unfortunately we cannot get a real outlook on public opinion in the occupied Crimea. But if there were conditions for an impartial social survey or referendum, I’m sure that the majority of people would say ‘yes’ to Ukraine,” she emphasized. Now people have a different opinion about the situation: those who call on the air express sometimes positive, sometimes negative opinion about Ukraine. It is important to let everyone be heard,” stresses Ms. Yuksel.
Ukrainian Radio covers the largest territory, compared to other radio broadcasters. In 2014, when the conflict started, Ukrainian Radio launched transmitters which had not been used for years and started broadcasting in Crimea and Donbas. Moreover, it’s now available everywhere in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as in European part of Russia. “These frequencies cannot be blocked because in order to do it Russian services would have to use similar Russian transmitters on the same frequency, but they had been dismantled long ago”, explained Dmytro Khorkhin, host of “Donbas UA” program at Ukrainian Radio. Initially, the program reported hostilities in Donbas. Later it transformed into a program covering the life of people from Donbas outside Donbas. “We started from success stories of internally displaced persons from Donbas who now live in other Ukrainian cities. This project inspired a lot of IDPs. We started cooperation with NGOs which support these people, and every time interesting people and interesting stories come to our studio,” Khorkhin added.
Radio “Crimea.Realities” started from broadcasting one hour a day. “Now we broadcast 24/7 and there are 3 hours of our original content. At first, it seemed to us that we were speaking to the void. Then the feedback appeared, people started to call,” says Volodymyr Prytula, senior editor at “Crimea.Realities”. Recently the experts participating in “Crimea.Realities” programs started reporting about intimidation. “Today in the morning I received a warning from the Ministry of Justice of Russian Federation. They say that if we do not register according to Russian legislation, we will have problems,” Prytula noted.
It is important to continue communication with people living on temporarily occupied territories, says Tetyana Yakubovych, editor at “Donbas.Realities”. “The more we speak to these people, the more they will think we have to speak to them. […] The time has really changed. Long ago “Radio Liberty” and other foreign radio broadcasters which tried to broadcast to the Soviet Union faced jamming, now the same is happening to ‘Radio Liberty’ and Ukrainian radio broadcasters in the territory controlled by the same country,” noted Andriy Kulykov, co-founder of “Hromadske Radio”.