Freedom House, the New York-based human rights group, has released its annual survey, entitled “Freedom in the World 2000-2001.” The survey lists both Russia and Ukraine as among the “Five Major Setbacks for Freedom,” due to what its authors characterized as “growing authoritarianism and continuing rampant corruption” in both countries. The survey found that political rights in Russia had eroded due to “serious voting irregularities and unequal access to media for some candidates during presidential elections in March” and “the brutal ongoing war in Chechnya.” Freedom House, which categorizes countries as either “free,” “partly free” or “not free,” listed Russia as “partly free,” along with such countries as Ethiopia, Togo, Malaysia and Singapore. The rights situation in Chechnya was rated as among the world’s worst, along with that in Tibet.
Adrian Karatnycky, Freedom House’s president, said in an interview with the newspaper Segodnya that the most obvious indicator of the deteriorating rights situation in Russia was the “intense pressure” of the authorities on the Russian media. He specifically cited the prosecution of Media-Most chief Vladimir Gusinsky, calling it an expression of a more generalized assault on civil liberties. Segodnya, it should be noted, is part of Media-Most. Karatnycky called the erosion of political liberties in Russian and Ukraine one of the “main blows” to the overall democratizing trend seen worldwide (Segodnya, December 22).
AFGHANISTAN SANCTIONS IGNORE REAL SOURCES OF CENTRAL ASIAN INSTABILITY.