Freedom House has published its 2012 report 'Freedom in the World'. This authoritative and independent report assesses 'freedom' in terms of significant respect for civil liberties, open political competition, independent civic life and an independent media.

The status of Ukraine has been downgraded from 'Free' to 'Partly Free'. Freedom House define a 'Partly Free' country as one in which there is limited respect for political rights and civil liberties. Such states frequently suffer from an environment of corruption, weak rule of law, ethnic and religious strife, and a political landscape in which a single party enjoys dominance despite a certain degree of pluralism. Freedom House's summary says that, until recently, Ukraine (amongst other downgraded countries) was regarded as an important success story for democratic development, but that its democratic credentials are now coming under question. According to the Freedom House indicators, Ukraine has shown 'the steepest decline in the institutions of freedom' (a 13-point decline, the 7th highest deterioration in scores between 2010 and 2011). Freedom House says that this is largely due to President Yanukovych's 'moves to crush the political opposition through a variety of antidemocratic tactics', including the prosecution of Yuliya Tymoshenko.

The report also analyses in some detail the events and implications of the Arab uprisings, and ends its report with a clear analysis of the year overall. While paying tribute to the courage and sacrifice of campaigners for freedom, it highlights the need for continual vigilance to preserve freedom and the qualities needed to ensure long term democratic development on the part of governments. Freedom House believes it is essential to 'shine the spotlight on leaders who, having come to power through legitimate democratic means, have set about systematically undermining the aspects of freedom that they find inconvenient. The temptation to create a quasi-authoritarian regime, in which standards that reinforce the leader's authority are embraced and those that complicate his goals are dispensed with, can have disastrous consequences for democracies with shallow roots.'

Closely following publication of the People First report on 2011, the Freedom House report is yet another damning critique of the Yanukovych government. What confidence can there be that 2012 will show any improvement?


Ukrayinska Dumka


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