Ukrainian ban on Russian language forces Christian radio to move to Hungary


Eastern Europe


New Life Radio team making music. Photo Facebook, Радио "Новая Жизнь"

Ukrainian legislation forces New Life Radio to move to Hungary. From there, the Christian radio station can continue to broadcast in the Russian language, which is forbidden in Ukraine.

In July, Ukraine’s parliament (“Verkhovna Rada”) passed a law that bans radio and TV stations from playing “Russian music” as well as distributing “printed material” in the language, according to Ukraine’s English publication, Kyiv Post. While not all “Russian-language music” is prohibited, the law has stopped some Christian radio stations from airing music in Russian.

New Life Radio (NLR), an Evangelical Christian radio station in Odesa, Ukraine, has felt the effects of the ruling, since at least 40 per cent of its airtime is dedicated to worship music in Russian, according to an Evangeliques Info article.

As the war with Russia continues to ravage Ukraine, the battle in what language to use continues to hit areas with large Russian populations in the country’s eastern Donbas region and throughout southern coastal cities such as Odesa.

Bible in Russian

“I don’t want our staff busted on the air for reading the Bible in Russian. We were expecting bombs to wreck our radio operations, but it turned out to be this law,” said Dan Johnson, Director of Christian Radio for Russia (New Life Radio’s parent company) in a Christianity Today (CT) article.

Johnson, who manages the operations at NLR, says that it currently broadcasts its content by satellite and online.

Now that the new ruling has gone into effect, Johnson and his team have registered in Hungary and have now secured a facility in Budapest. They plan to start a full-time, satellite transmission of NLR's Russian service beginning September 12th, which will legally allow them to broadcast into Russia and Ukraine. This will be his fourth move to escape the restrictions that have threatened free speech and his ministry.

Continuing in Ukrainian

As they set up in Budapest, Johnson still has his eyes on Odesa. He told CNE that he has started a Ukrainian-only radio service with the existing staff there. Although the concept is still in its infancy, much work remains in providing Bible teachings and music in the Ukrainian language, so it can operate on a 24/7 basis.

“If the Christians of Europe could help us support a single programming person to oversee this effort, it would be an answer to prayer,” he said to CNE.

Although an uncertain future remains, Johnson remains confident that the Gospel will continue to be on the airwaves for both Ukrainian and Russian speakers.

“It’s just another chapter in our long story of working to broadcast the Gospel, so we don't

worry about anything and trust God to get us through the troubles yet again. The devil doesn't like what we do, as usual, and employs all his tricks. We have the victory in Christ,” he said.



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