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Freedom House Report Finds a Decade of Democratic Decline

Russian -- Democracy opposition leader Vladmir Milov (C) at RFE/RL's Washington, DC office, 29Jun2010
On June 29, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty joined Freedom House in the release of Nations in Transit 2010 (NIT), an annual report measuring democratization and governance in the countries of the former Soviet Union and Central and Eastern Europe.

The report found that the democracy scores for 14 of the 29 countries in the study worsened in 2009 compared with the previous year, and cap a decade in which all of the countries in the former Soviet Union except one underwent declines in democratic accountability. Russia experienced the sharpest overall decline during this 10-year period.

The report’s overview essay also notes the growing list of modern-day dissidents -- activists, journalists, and legal representatives -- who have lost their lives while fighting for basic human rights and the rule of law.

The report’s findings generated considerable international coverage, as well as stories and editorials in elite media in the United States and abroad. The Economist cited it to highlight the difficult democracy challenges that remain in Central Europe, including some of the European Union's newest member states. A second article, "Plotting Democracy’s Downfall," appeared in the Economist’s online edition and used NIT findings to stress the broader challenges to democracy.

The Washington Post cited the report in an editorial published on American Independence Day titled, "Around the World, Freedom is in Peril," which observed that “as America…celebrates the birth of its liberty, in much of the rest of the world freedom and democracy are in retreat.” Another Post article on the recent Community of Democracies meeting in Poland referenced the profound challenges to democracy cited in NIT, and a third focused specifically on these challenges in increasingly authoritarian Azerbaijan.