Press release March 9, 2023
NEW REPORT: Freedom in Eurasia Deteriorated in 2022
Moscow’s war of aggression in Ukraine contributed significantly to the region’s decline.
WASHINGTON—Freedom in Eurasia declined in 2022 with four countries experiencing declines in their political rights and civil liberties and one country making improvements, according to a new report released today by Freedom House.
The report—Freedom in the World 2023: Marking 50 Years in the Struggle for Democracy—finds that three decades after the fall of the Soviet Union, authoritarianism dominates Eurasia and this lack of democratic governance has destabilized the region. In 2022, Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine took center stage amid a broader array of active and frozen conflicts between Eurasian governments. The February attack marked a dramatic escalation after eight years of more limited Russian aggression, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths, Europe’s largest refugee crisis, and far-reaching economic and security implications for the entire world.
Other report findings in Eurasia include:
- The largest one-year score decline in the region took place in Ukraine, which is rated Partly Free and lost 11 points on Freedom in the World’s 100-point scale due to Moscow’s war of aggression. Its aggregate score is now 50.
- Improvements occurred in Uzbekistan and the separately assessed territories of Nagorno-Karabakh and South Ossetia, which each gained one point. Uzbekistan and South Ossetia are designated as Not Free, while Nagorno-Karabakh is rated Partly Free.
- Moldova had the highest score in the region with an aggregate score of 62, followed by Georgia (58) and Armenia (54). All are rated Partly Free.
- Turkmenistan (2) had the worst aggregate score in the region, followed by eastern Donbas (3), and Crimea (4); the latter two are assessed as separate territories. All are designated as Not Free.
- 0 percent of people in the region live in countries rated Free, while 83 percent live in Not Free countries.
Beyond Eurasia, Freedom in the World 2023 finds that global freedom declined for a 17th consecutive year in 2022 as 35 countries suffered deterioration in their political rights and civil liberties. A total of 34 countries made improvements during the year, however, meaning the gap between the numbers of countries that improved and declined was the narrowest it has ever been since the negative pattern began. The report suggests that the struggle for democracy may be approaching a turning point, and offers recommendations on how democratic governments and societies should work together to roll back authoritarian gains.
The new report includes scores and narrative assessments on political rights and civil liberties for 195 countries and 15 territories around the globe. This year’s edition, the 50th in its series, covers developments in 2022 and provides a brief analysis of long-term trends. The report’s methodology is derived in large measure from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948.
The report identifies a number of steps that democratic governments can take to protect and expand political rights and civil liberties. They include:
- Help Ukraine win. Democratic governments must maintain unwavering support for Ukraine and its people, whose cause is crucial to the future of freedom. This should include providing the weapons and technical and security assistance necessary to help ensure Ukrainian success on the battlefield.
- Stop enabling authoritarians. Democracies must address corruption and kleptocracy head on by closing the many financial loopholes that allow authoritarian rulers to hide or launder stolen assets in democratic settings.
- Be clear and unapologetic about the virtues of democracy and tireless in efforts to uphold and defend it. Democratic states should make the protection of freedom and democracy a fundamental component of all international policy efforts—including in foreign, security, and economic affairs—and every diplomatic engagement. Human rights concerns should be raised in meetings with foreign counterparts at all levels.
- Dramatically ramp up support for human rights defenders and for countries and regions at critical junctures. Democratic governments should help human rights defenders and civil society groups remain active in their home countries whenever possible, and provide technical assistance and training. When democracy advocates come under threat, their foreign partners should provide medical, legal, and psychosocial support as needed.
Freedom House is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works to create a world where all are free. We inform the world about threats to freedom, mobilize global action, and support democracy’s defenders.