ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Russia’s government-owned Sputnik news agency on Thursday confirmed to Kurdistan 24 that it was shutting its Kurdish language website at the end of this month, saying that the reason was a low rate of readers.
Earlier this week, a source from Sputnik Kurdistan who asked not to be named told Kurdistan 24 that they believed pressure from Turkey had led to the closure.
However, a statement from the Sputnik Press Office repudiated that claim and said they “highly doubted” if the source was one of their employees.
“Otherwise, he would have known that the office is closed for not reaching the targets – our Kurdish portal couldn’t boast high visits rate,” an emailed statement to Kurdistan 24 read.
“At the same time, Sputnik decided to focus on our Arab and Turkish offices, which unlike Kurdish bureau, show impressive viewership growth and actively cover the news from the region,” it added.
Based in Istanbul, “Sputnik Kurdistan” went online as the successor of the now-defunct Radio Voice of Russia in Kurdish in 2015 at a time Kurds came to worldwide prominence as the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria raged on.
Although Russian state media’s coverage of Kurdish affairs changed in line with Moscow’s up and down ties with Ankara, Sputnik in Kurdish remained one of the few news sources in Turkey independent of the administration of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Online foreign media in Turkish and Kurdish languages have become an alternative news source for many people in Turkey as the public-funded Turkish media’s policy and privately-owned newspapers, as well as television channels, came under the control of figures close to the government.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany