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VOA Weekly Programming Highlights: February 23, 2023

VOA Coverage of Events Ahead of Anniversary of Russian Invasion of Ukraine Resonates with Audiences

VOA Ukrainian's and VOA Russian’s real-time coverage of President Biden’s visit to Kyiv and Warsaw, the Munich Security Conference and the Ukraine Defense Contact Group's Brussels meeting was carried by most major Ukrainian TV channels and live-streamed on the services' social media platforms. The coverage reached millions of viewers in Ukraine and the region, including hundreds of thousands of views and tens of thousands of interactions on social media. Highlights include special broadcasts with simultaneous translation of Biden’s Warsaw speech (VOA Russian’s livestream alone garnered more than 170,000 views within hours), Vice President Harris’ Munich speech and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley's briefing. There were also exclusive interviews with the chairman of Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada, former U.N. deputy secretary-general Mark Malloch-Brown, General (ret.) Ben Hodges, Mikhail Khodorkovsky and other Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian politicians and opposition figures, the State Department's Andrea Kalan and Ukrainian, Russian, U.S. and EU experts.

VOA Reflects on Former President Jimmy Carter Now in Hospice Care

Within 24 hours of receiving word that former President Jimmy Carter entered into hospice care last week, VOA's Midwest correspondent, Kane Farabaugh, who has interviewed former President Jimmy Carter more than 20 times, interviewed Carter biographer Jonathan Alter and others for a TV report and web article; began to work on a personal reflection piece on his relationship with Carter; and fielded interview requests from CBS News and other media outlets. An article by the UK’s Daily Mail recalled Kane’s 2010 interview in which Carter discussed the impact of the Iran hostage crisis on his presidency.

Live Coverage of 2023 Munich Security Conference Engages the Audience

VOA Persian's live special coverage of the 2023 Munich Security Conference, attended by a large U.S. delegation, including VP Harris, Secretary Blinken, Senators Menendez and McConnell, and many other VIPs, featured an early morning broadcast of the "Woman, Life, Freedom: Visions for Iran" Townhall, with simultaneous translation. Among the participants were Sen. Menendez, Prince Reza Pahlavi, Masih Alinejad, and Nazanin Boniadi, the latter three were invited as Iranian civil society representatives instead of the Islamic Republic's officials, the first such decision by the conference organizers. Audience engagement on digital platforms surpassed 1,845,597.

VOA Livestreams Discussion with Freed Nicaraguan Political Prisoners

Nicaragua’s surprise decision to free more than 200 political prisoners made headlines earlier this month. With some of these prisoners visiting VOA’s Washington headquarters, VOA Spanish produced a special Facebook/YouTube livestream conversation with recently freed political prisoners Juan Lorenzo Holmann of La Prensa newspaper president, journalist Samantha Jirón, and former presidential candidate Medardo Mairena. The special garnered 50k+ views and 3.6k+ real time audience questions/comments for panelists. The coverage included reporting on Nicaraguan government actions that stripped 94 additional opponents of their citizenship, as well as efforts to oppose dissidents’ citizenship revocation. The service also covered some prisoners' efforts to apply for Spanish citizenship and Pope Francis’ concerns over Bishop Rolando Alvarez’s imprisonment, which generated 396k+ social media views in 10 days. Stories about the US humanitarian parole for freed prisoners and about Pope Francis were versioned into English.

VOA Turkish Focuses On Plight of Survivors After Earthquakes

VOA Turkish maintained its extensive coverage of U.S. search and rescue efforts following the quakes in Turkey. The service followed a USAID team as they left Fairfax, Va., and interviewed team members while in Turkey and upon their return. The story was viewed more than 145k times on YouTube. Additionally, VOA Turkish collaborated with VOA’s News Center to cover Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Turkey and offered a compelling story of earthquake survivors, as they used only vehicle headlights and flashlights to bury loved ones at night. The dramatic scene was viewed more than 115k times on Facebook.

Two Dozen Affiliates Pick Up VOA Indonesian’s Story on Jakarta’s View of Myanmar Nuclear Plans

VOA Indonesian’s interview with Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Teuku Faizasyah about Myanmar’s nuclear ambitions has been picked up by 25 affiliates in Indonesia since February 14. Myanmar recently announced its collaboration with Russia on nuclear energy, sparking concerns the junta may try to make nuclear weapons. Faizasyah told VOA more details are needed and urged IAEA verification. Indonesia is ASEAN’s current chair, and many expect stronger leadership from Jakarta on Myanmar. Faizasyah could not confirm if the matter would be raised at ASEAN's next meeting.

VOA Coverage Leading up to Nigeria Elections Attracts Significant Audience

On February 25, VOA Hausa organized two major town halls in the country to promote voter awareness and as a balanced, fair platform for information on the upcoming Nigerian elections. Moderated by VOA Hausa's Mahmud Lalo, the Sokoto town hall attracted more than 900 attendees on site, during which six candidates took questions from the audience on issues including insecurity, the economy, press freedom, human rights, corruption and other challenges facing the country. The event at Jos University saw 1,200 in-person attendees. A VOA special report page dedicated to the elections has launched with candidate interviews, profiles, and additional on-the-ground coverage.