In January 2011, I wrote a blog called “Is Ukraine free?”  In it, I noted that for 2011, in the ranking produced by the US-based NGO Freedom House, Ukraine fell back into the “Partly Free” category, having been in the “Free” category every year since 2005. Being in the “Partly Free” category, with a score of 6 on the Freedom House system, put Ukraine equal with Moldova – still one of the two highest-ranking non-Baltic FSU countries, but suggesting Moldova was catching up. I noted that Ukraine’s descent into the “Partly Free” category would reinforce concerns about the development of democracy and freedom of speech. The blog included a graph showing how different FSU states had done in the Freedom House rankings over the last 20 years.

This month, someone has drawn my attention to a similar exercise by The Economist magazine, entitled Democracy Index 2011, published in December. The Economist has a different methodology from Freedom House. It groups countries into “Full democracies”; “Flawed democracies”; “Hybrid regimes”; and “Authoritarian regimes”. This index shows Ukraine as one of two countries changing category downwards from a “flawed democracy” (2010) to a “hybrid regime” (2011). Ukraine’s ranking drops from 67th out of 167 countries in 2010 to 79th in 2011.

I’m cautious about reading too much into a single index; and you can always argue about methodology. But it is noteworthy that two independent reports both show a deteriorating trend in Ukraine. I look forward to seeing how Ukraine is doing in the 2012 Freedom House rankings, due out this month.

Leigh Turner


This post is also available in Ukrainian.



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