English Section

UPDATE: Radio Poland’s Ukraine section turns 30

29.09.2021 20:30
Wednesday marks 30 years since Radio Poland set up its Ukraine section after the breakup of the Soviet empire.
Image:Radio Poland

In the autumn of 1991, Polish Radio’s international division, then known as Radio Polonia, expanded to include a Ukrainian-language service.

Earlier that year, the Polish public broadcaster began unofficial broadcasts in Ukrainian in response to the collapse of the Soviet Union and Kyiv’s declaration of independence.

Radio Poland’s Ukrainian Section is marking its 30th year on air. Radio Poland’s Ukrainian Section is marking its 30th year on air. Image: Polish Radio

In an interview with Polish Radio’s IAR news agency to mark the anniversary, Radio Poland’s Director Andrzej Rybałt said the launch of programming in the languages of its eastern neighbours was part of efforts to assert Poland’s independence from Russian control after decades of communism.

The project also helped Poland establish direct contacts east of its borders, unmediated by Moscow, Rybałt added.

He told the IAR news agency that the work of Radio Poland’s Ukrainian Section remained needed 30 years later.

For example, in partnership with Ukraine’s Hromadske Radio, the section produces a daily morning prime-time programme that reaches the whole of Ukraine, from the capital Kyiv to "areas close to the frontline," Rybałt said.

He added: “This is our way of counteracting the systemic disinformation carried out by Putin’s propaganda machine, which extends to the occupied parts of Ukraine—Crimea and the Donbas and Luhansk regions.”

'The voice of liberty'

Rybałt also told IAR that the Ukrainian Section’s news, commentary and various other programming were designed “to carry the voice of liberty to societies which unfortunately have to fight for freedom and democracy, namely the people of Belarus and Russia.”

Thanks to smartphones, these broadcasts also reach the Ukrainian diaspora in Germany, Britain, the United States and Canada, Rybałt said.

During the last three decades, the Ukrainian Section has aired programmes about Polish-Ukrainian relations as well as Poland’s current affairs, social policy issues, and domestic and foreign policies.

These topics are brought to Ukrainian-speaking audiences internationally, including Ukrainian nationals living in Poland.

Other themes include joint initiatives by Polish people living across the border in Ukraine and Poland-based Ukrainians, as well as promotion of shared projects by the two countries' diasporas in the European Union, the United States and Canada.

Over the years, the section has hosted some of Poland's and Ukraine's top intellectuals on its airwaves, from Polish literary Nobel Prize winners Czesław Miłosz, Wisława Szymborska and Olga Tokarczuk, to Ukraine’s celebrated writer Yurii Andrukhovych and the prominent historian Bohdan Osadchuk. 

The section celebrates its 30th birthday with special programmes and a look back at its three decades of work as part of Radio Poland.

Broadcasting to the world

Under its various names, Radio Poland has been reporting on newsworthy, often pivotal events in the country, for 85 years, except for the interruption caused by the outbreak of World War II. 

Radio Poland, also known as Polish Radio’s External Service (Polskie Radio dla Zagranicy), offers listeners around the globe an array of up-to-date and comprehensive news on Poland, while also presenting the Polish perspective on key issues of the contemporary world.

At present, Radio Poland broadcasts programming in Polish and five foreign languages: English, German, Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian.