Freedom House: Political rights, civil liberties in Belarus ranked ‘worst of the worst’

More aggressive tactics by authoritarian regimes and an upsurge in terrorist attacks contributed to a disturbing decline in global freedom in 2014, according to Freedom in the World 2015, Freedom House’s annual report on the condition of political rights and civil liberties.

The report finds an overall decline in freedom for the ninth consecutive year. Of the 195 countries assessed, 89 (46 percent) were rated Free, 55 (28 percent) Partly Free, and 51 (26 percent) Not Free.

In terms of political rights and civil liberties Belarus is classified into group ‘Worst of the Worst’ together with China, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Sudan and a number of African countries.

Each country score is based on two numerical ratings—from 1 to 7—for political rights and civil liberties, with 1 representing the most free and 7 the least free.

Belarus’s freedom index is 6.5: index of political rights is 7, index of civil liberties is 6.

Russia and Kazakhstan are put into category ‘Not Free Countries’, with indexes 6-6-6 and 5.5-5-5, respectively. According to the report, the Russian government intensified domestic controls on dissent, tightening its grip on the media sector and nongovernmental organisations.

All other neighbours of Belarus are ranged as ‘Free’ (Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine).

Events in Eurasia in 2014 were dominated by the upheaval in Ukraine, the report says. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine <…> was evidence of a growing disdain for democratic standards that was found in nearly all regions of the Word, it stresses.

At that, gains in Ukraine related to the ouster of corrupt president Viktor Yanukovych in February were offset by Russia’s seizure of Crimea in March and ongoing battles with pro-Russian separatists in the country’s east, the reports says.

Russian-occupied Crimea, evaluated separately for the first time, received ratings ‘only slightly better than those of worst-ranked Eurasian states Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan’.

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organisation dedicated to the expansion of freedom around the world.

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