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VOA Programming Weekly Highlights, July 6, 2023

Africa Division Comprehensively Covers Wagner Group Revolt and its Repercussions in Africa

Following the failed attack on Russia by the leader of the Wagner militia group, VOA Africa delved into the potential impact the latest developments could have on Moscow-Africa relations. Political and diplomacy experts spoke to VOA about the Wagner network’s influence in Africa using all languages and platforms, including the 30-minute programs Straight Talk Africa and Washington Forum, which explored possible implications of the short-lived military mutiny and Wagner’s uncertain future on the continent. Both shows were broadcast by more than 300 TV channels on the continent.

VOA Mandarin’s Hong Kong Handover Anniversary Coverage Evokes Sadness, Apprehension

“It brought me to tears,” said one viewer of Mandarin’s coverage of the 26th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from Britain. From June 30 to July 2, Mandarin’s reporting centered on dire predictions for Hong Kong and an explainer showing all of those coming true under Beijing’s control. Coverage of dwindling press freedom and cancellation of protests in Hong Kong, as well as harassment of Hongkongers in Britain by Chinese nationals, became political when another viewer said Taiwan must not be another Hong Kong. This coverage also generated lively engagement with 192K views of the explainer on Twitter.

VOA’s Video Comparing Russian Leaders’ Contradictory Statements Garners Record Views

VOA Russian's video comparing Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement last year denying any state involvement in the Wagner Group and President Putin’s statement last week (June 27) confirming state involvement generated 2.2M+ views in less than a week on Instagram alone. An accompanying web report provided context. In an exclusive interview, former U.S. Ambassador-to-Russia Michael McFaul gave his assessment of Wagner and its possible exit from Ukraine: “If they no longer participate in the war, this is good for Ukraine and bad for Russia,” adding Prigozhin's attempted coup "will only hasten the further weakening of the Russian government."

VOA Spanish Provides Comprehensive Coverage of Guatemala's Presidential Elections

VOA Spanish correspondents in Guatemala and the U.S. reported in real-time during Guatemala’s presidential elections. Live reports and multimedia content captured the atmosphere, election weekend alcohol prohibition preparations, and expats voting. Infographics and articles showed the candidates’ standing, voting process, analysis and preliminary electoral results. Reporting continues as finalists Sandra Torres and Bernardo Arévalo head to a runoff election in August, while Guatemalans’ express they are not confident the elections are fair and transparent. This content garnered 57K+ views on social media. Affiliates requested 92 live and pre-taped reports.

News Center Report on U.S. Election Is Cited by Media

Albanian newspaper Panorama quoted VOA's chief national correspondent Steve Herman by name in an article about how the U.S. presidential campaign is shaping up, saying, ”Voice of America correspondent Steve Herman says the large number of competitors is to Mr. Trump's advantage, as most of them are reluctant to criticize the former president.” A slightly different version of the same quote appeared in the Indonesian news site WN Network.

VOA Urdu Interview with Former Prime Minister Generates More Than Two Million Views

In an exclusive interview with VOA, which generated 2.2M views, former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed a number of questions swirling around his ouster and the current political crisis in the country. Khan criticized the country’s military establishment for its alleged role in his removal from power, saying that the incumbents feared the popularity of his Tehreek-e-Insaf party. He noted "the need to have good relations with the United States," while continuing to blame Washington for orchestrating his removal, an allegation vehemently rejected by the United States.

Internet Disruption and Attack on Molavi Abdul Hamid in Zahedan

VOA Persian covered the severe internet disruption in Zahedan and the regime’s media attack against Sunni cleric Molavi Abdul Hamid, in the government’s latest attempt to stop weekly anti-government protests. Netblocks confirmed metrics of internet connectivity disruption in Zahedan. Abdul Hamid has been a vocal critic of the regime since the 2022 nationwide protests. On June 30, Afshar Sigarchi reported the severe internet disruption and Koroush Aladin reported the regime’s media campaign attacking the cleric with forced confessions. Total audience engagement across digital platforms surpassed 515,292 impressions between June 27 and June 30.