In a week of special programming in the run-up to this milestone date, BBC Russian is featuring special multimedia content, looking back at the radio journalism that has made the BBC a household name, from Vilnius to Vladivostok, and also looking at future shape of media.
Head of BBC Russian, Sarah Gibson, says: "This is a sad time for all of us at BBC Russian. We are also proud of the unique heritage our broadcasts have left behind – in the hearts and minds of millions of radio listeners. As we move on, we will continue to serve our audiences through online and mobile services. Our website bbcrussian.com will continue to bring global stories to the Russian audience, and put Russian stories in a global context."
The BBC started regular Russian-language broadcasts to the Soviet Union on 24 March 1946. Throughout the years, the BBC radio brought independent news and analysis to Russian-speaking audiences. In its special programming, BBC Russian looks again at the key stories it has covered – reporting the cold war and the perestroika, the attempted putsch of August 1991 and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the two Chechen wars and Beslan, the Russia-Georgia conflict and everything else that has mattered to its audiences in the region.
Highlights from the 65 years of broadcasting also include the BBC voices that have been well known to listeners, ground-breaking interactive interviews with Margaret Thatcher and Paul McCartney, both speaking to audiences in the Soviet Union, as well as unique archive material such as Joseph Brodsky's first radio interview, hours after winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1987.
Key Russian media, political and business personalities share their views of the BBC's work over the years – including the businessman and owner of The Independent, Alexander Lebedev, leading Russian journalists such as Yevgeniy Kiselyov, Dmitriy Muratov, Leonid Parfyonov, Vladimir Pozner and Mikhail Rykhlin, human-rights activist Lev Ponomaryov, writer Dmitriy Bykov, and President of the Faculty of Journalism of Moscow Sate University, Yasen Zassurskiy.
The BBC looks at what its broadcasts to the Soviet Union, and then to Russia and other post-Soviet states, meant for the people in those countries, and its influence. Putting its work in the wider context of foreign broadcasting, BBC Russian also looks at how the Western views of the importance of broadcasting to the USSR and post-Soviet states changed over the years, and what these changes mean for politics and the media in Russia. Another focus looks at how the media in Russia is changing, the role the internet is playing in the current media landscape, and the rapid changes in media consumption.
The BBC is closing three of its Russian-language radio programmes – Ranniy Chas (Dawn), Utro na Bi-bi-si (Morning with the BBC) and Vecher na Bi-bi-si (Evening with the BBC). However, BBC Russian will continue to produce BBSeva, Vam Slovo and Pyatiy Etazh which will be available for listening via the website bbcrussian.com as well as for FM partners outside Russia.
BBC World Service is also stopping its short- and medium-wave broadcasts to Russia in English.