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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Freedom House 2007 on Russia

Freedom House has released its 2007 report on the state of Freedom in the world. Russia retained it's status of "not free" alongside the worst offenders to freedom in the Middle East and Central Africa and creating a giant purple unfree blot on FH's world map, covering 1/6th of the Earths' surface.

The report lumps Russian in with the world's biggest transgressors of human rights:

Freedom House also noted that the trends reflected the growing pushback against democracy driven by authoritarian regimes, including Russia, Venezuela, China, Iran, and Zimbabwe, threatening to further erode the gains made in the last thirty years. The pushback is targeted at organizations, movements, and media that advocate for the expansion of democratic freedoms.

There was little significant change in the state of freedom in the former Soviet Union in 2006. As was the case in the previous year, the only relatively bright spots were Ukraine, which enjoys a Free rating, and Georgia, a Partly Free country. On the negative side, Russia continued to serve as a model for authoritarian-minded leaders in the region and elsewhere, and the country experienced a modest decline as a result of its crackdown on non-governmental organizations. Modest declines were also noted in Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan.
Arch Puddington, director of research at Freedom House, stated:
While the past year was not a good year for freedom, the trend over the past decade is even more disturbing. Not only have we failed to make significant breakthroughs, but we have seen the emergence of authoritarian regimes—Russia, Venezuela, and Iran are good examples—that are aggressively hostile to democracy, are determined to crush all domestic advocates for freedom, and stand as models for democracy’s adversaries everywhere.
What's really important to note is that Russia is contributing significantly to the deteriorating situations in both Iran and Venezuela by giving military assistance and diplomatic cover to both rogue regimes. So it's quite easy to argue that Russia is the single biggest threat to freedom in the world today -- and La Russophobe readers are not surprised by that fact, since it's an argument we have been making here ever since April 2006.

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