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Monday, July 31, 2006

In Helsinki, Freedom House Condemns Russian Autocracy

The director of Freedom House gave lengthy testimony before the Helsinki Commission on July 27th concerning the rise of totalitarianism in Russia. The link will survive so La Russopobe will simply direct readers to it, and urge them to support the heroic work of Freedom House to defend civil liberties. The overview is:

While there, we released our most recent report on Russia, from our survey called Nations in Transit, at a well attended press conference on June 14, and so these findings were conveyed to at least some Russians through the dwindling array of still independent newspapers and radio stations in Moscow. That report documents the continuing erosion of freedom in Russia during the past year, and I have brought copies today for your reference. The report, by one of America's most eminent Russia-watchers, Robert W. Orttung of American University, focuses on several specific developments that have been prominent in the last year - the resurgence of corruption in the growing state-owned economy; the development of the NGO law that would further curtail civic activity, and obstruct international efforts to assist civil society; the adoption of election laws that will make it even more difficult for opposition parties to win seats in the Duma and virtually impossible for independent monitors to observe the electoral process. But the larger, even moreimportant story to be told is found in the accumulated series of reports on Russia that track the steady, continuing restriction of political space in Russia. In the annual assessments contained in Nations in Transit, one notes that the scores for Russia's democratic performance have been declining in every year since 1997.
Freedom House reports that it is regularly harassed and attacked by Neo-Soviet Russian authorities for its work in trying to speak to Russians about the rise of authoritarianism and its attempts to educate them and document their findings, and concludes that Russia remains in the dark third of the world that is "unfree."

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