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VOA Programming Weekly Highlights, June 29, 2023

VOA Russian and News Center’s Real-Time Coverage of Prigozhin’s Rebellion Sees Spike in Viewership

As news broke of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s military mutiny in Russia, weekend coverage generated a major jump in VOA Russian’s web audience with 3.3M+ views on social media (June 23-26), 297K article views–more than 3x compared to the previous weekend–and 650K+ video views (6/23-27). VOA's coverage was also cited in regional media, including 20 outlets in Ukraine, and featured a timeline, U.S. and European officials’ reactions, including Biden and Blinken; and interviews/analysis by U.S. and international experts, including General Phillip Breedlove, Janusz Bugajski, Mark Feygin, Yuri Fedorov, advisor to Belarus-opposition-leader Svetlana Tsikhanovskaya Franak Vyacorka and Russian opposition politician Dmitry Gudkov.

The News Center covered fast-breaking news of the military mutiny in Russia by Yevgeny Prigozhin and his Wagner mercenary forces, filing more than 52 TV, radio and web reports, CNVOs, CNPKs, graphic packages, VOA60s, and podcasts since June 23. Social media posts attracted over 182K YouTube views and 31K Facebook engagements. Eight of the top 22 stories on were about these dramatic events. The News Center carried reports from correspondents in Russia, Ukraine, Britain, Kenya, and Washington, and worked with VOA language services to cover international reaction in the U.S., Europe, China, Africa and Australia.

Interview with Former National Security Advisor John Bolton Engages the Audience

VOA Persian aired a special program titled “Sanctions: Diplomatic Tool or Economic War,” in which Siamak Dehghanpour interviewed John Bolton, former National Security Advisor (2018-2019). Bolton said that the lifting of sanctions will not improve Iran’s economy; the money will go to the regime. In addition, Bolton was impressed with the "Women, Life, Freedom" movement’s political impact: “The widespread opposition and the coalition of women against the Ayatollah’s rule is very important. When women challenge [the hijab], they challenge the entire basis of the regime.” Total audience engagement across digital platforms from June 19-26 surpassed 1,038,536 impressions.

Mandarin’s Coverage of Wagner Group’s Mutiny Sparks Debate Among Audience on China’s Response

“What will Xi Jinping do?” asked one viewer as audiences turned to VOA Mandarin’s in-depth discussion with observers about the crisis Putin faces after Russian mercenaries fighting in the Ukraine war launched a military mutiny. In this week's coverage, one analyst told VOA it’s too costly for China to get involved, while another said it’s still in Beijing’s interests to help its geostrategic ally, albeit indirectly, adding that the rebellion ended abruptly, but served as a warning to Xi about invading Taiwan. A viewer commented, “Dictators are really not as powerful as imagined.”

World Refugee Day “Hope Away from Home” Special Showcases Refugees’ Resilience

VOA Spanish produced the World Refugee Day special, "Hope Away from Home," showcasing the lives, resilience and challenges of Latin American refugees. The special explored various perspectives, from migrants seeking entry into the U.S. and refugees establishing new lives abroad, to sharing how Nicaraguan refugees in Costa Rica contribute to the country's economy. V360’s June 23 program also focused on inspiring refugee stories. Combined coverage generated 78K+ social media views. VOA Creole’s accounts of Haitian refugees in the U.S. and Latin America generated huge traffic with the most popular garnering 117K+ Facebook views.

Inspiring Story of Senegalese Refugee Family Living the American Dream Generates Spike in Digital Metrics

An original VOA French video, posted on June 17 about a Senegalese family, the Koite siblings, who opened two successful restaurants in the Washington D.C. area, generated more than 470K engagement actions in less than a week, including 257K video views and 17K interactions.

VOA Turkish's LGBTQ+ Pride Coverage Draws Significant Traffic to Social Media Platforms

VOA Turkish’s Istanbul reporter Umut Colak was on the ground as the police detained dozens attending the LGBTQ+ pride march. In a video that generated more than 800K views on Facebook, participants in the march chanted slogans and waving rainbow flags in defiance of the government-issued ban on pride activities since 2015. 'We are returning,'" organizers of the Istanbul march read in a statement. Colak’s video from Transgender Pride on June 18 was viewed by 1.8M on Facebook, and generated significant views on other social media platforms.