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VOA Weekly Programming Highlights, September 8, 2023

Major Outlets Cite VOA Mandarin’s Reporting on Xi's Absence at G20

VOA Mandarin’s in-depth article on President Xi’s absence from the G20 summit and its implications for China’s geopolitical competition with India was picked up by Singapore’s largest Chinese-language newspaper Lianhe Zaobao, Taiwan's United Daily and influential YouTuber Caijinglengyan. The article was reposted on popular online forums Zhihu and Reddit. Mandarin’s two news reports on world reaction and analysis generated 21K+ combined page views from September 4 to September 5. “With India's economy booming, China's plummeting, Xi dare not face Modi,” said one viewer, while another commented, “Democratic India…completely smashes authoritarian China’s Asian dream.”

VOA’s Exclusive Report on Russian Scam Sites Widely Cited by Ukrainian Media

VOA’s report on Russian sites obtaining personal data from thousands of Ukrainians was picked up by more than 50 online media outlets, including popular Ukrainian outlets Ukrayinska-Pravda, TSN, NV and Ukrinform. U.S. defense officials told VOA that Russia has been using sham websites to obtain information from Ukrainian soldiers and their family members in what they believe is an attempt to detain family members living in occupied Ukraine and deport them to Russia. Two U.S. defense officials say a Russian information warfare unit has created at least two phishing websites, and, posing as support websites for friends and family of missing, captured or fallen Ukrainian soldiers. Petro Yatsenko, spokesman for Ukraine's Coordination Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War, confirmed to VOA that the two websites are scams.

French to Africa Service Coverage of Gabon Coup Generates Strong Interest

VOA French to Africa provided blow-by-blow coverage of the coup in Gabon on August 30. The service’s stringer in the capital of Libreville sent live updates for the service’s radio shows throughout the day. The service dedicated its 0530 UTC daily radio show and the call-in show to Gabon. VOA's coverage from the ground featured interviews with members of the Gabonese diaspora overseas, expert interviews and analysis. A VOA Afrique Instagram Reel on Gabon from August 30 to September 5 received more than 12K views.

News Center Exclusive on Iran Gets Attention From Media Outlets, Dissident Groups

Michael Lipin's article about Iranians who might be traded in a U.S.-Iran prisoner swap was cited by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and Breitbart, republished by the New Delhi Times and The Independent, and shared by two Iranian dissident groups: the National Front of Iran’s MelliunIran, and IranBriefing.Net. It was retweeted by Reuters' Clauda Tanios, Al Jazeera’s Priyanka Shankar, Iranian news site Kayhan Life and its chief editor Nazenin Ansari, former Iran prisoner Xiyue Wang, Iran scholar Alireza Nader, and rights activist Lawdan Bazargan.Barry Rosen, a former U.S. hostage in Iran, said, “I haven’t seen anyone else on that story.”

Audience Response to VOA Persian Coverage of the Death of Protester Javad Rouhi

VOA Persian reported the death of protester Javad Rouhi after his arrest in Iran’s Mazandaran province last year. Officials claim Rouhi died at the hospital due to a seizure, but human rights activists say that he was tortured and killed in prison. Iranians protested Rouhi’s death online. Lawyer Hossein Ahmadiniaz told VOA: “Javad was tortured and denied medical care.” Roya Boroumand, executive director of the Abdurraham Boroumand Foundation, said: “The Islamic Republic will continue to kill opponents.” The service’s social media platforms surpassed 6.6 million video views from September 1 to 4.

VOA Azerbaijani Report from Azeri-Ukrainian Serviceman’s Funeral Engages Audience

Azerbaijani-born Zahir Rahimov died in a Ukrainian hospital from wounds sustained in the battle for Bakhmut. VOA Azerbaijani's August 31 video report from Rahimov's funeral in Kyiv, Ukraine, garnered more than 50K views within 24 hours of its publication on YouTube. Rahimov’s military comrades, Ukrainian officials and family members spoke with VOA, sharing their impressions of the fallen serviceman. “He was a good fighter, and he received the 'Golden Cross' medal," a Ukrainian commander told VOA in remembrance of Rahimov.