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The absence of internationally accepted criteria to define the term “political prisoner” is a critical problem that allows repressive regimes to hide behind ambiguity and hampers the ability of those advocating on prisoners’ behalves. Human rights defenders from Azerbaijan, Belarus, Russia and Ukraine addressed this issue at a two-day working session, organized by Freedom House and the Belarusian Human Rights House on August 27-28, 2012, in Vilnius, Lithuania.

The capability of repressive governments to monitor users of mobile phones and block access to internet content is far beyond levels realized by users and presents significant risks for user privacy and safety, according to a new report released today by Freedom House and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). This is a serious problem in countries that lack the rule of law and where civil liberties are not respected.

Freedom House is deeply concerned by the detention of Azerbaijani photojournalist and Facebook activist Mehman Huseynov on June 12, in a move that appears to be a reprisal for his human rights advocacy during the Eurovision contest hosted in the capital city of Baku in May.  Huseynov is being charged with hooliganism after allegedly resisting police during a demonstration May 21 and using abusive language against security officials, and could face up to a year in prison if convicted, according to RFE/RL.  Freedom House calls for the international community to exert pressure on Baku to release Huseynov and uphold its human rights commitments.

Negative developments in Hungary and Ukraine are at the forefront of an antidemocratic trend in Central and Eastern Europe that raises serious questions about the durability of the European Union’s young democracies,



Director, Europe and Eurasia programs

Marc Behrendt is the Director for Europe and Eurasia programs at Freedom House, with over 20 years of experience working in the Eurasia region in peacebuilding, governance and human rights.


Signature Reports

Special Reports

Promise and Reversal: The Post-Soviet Landscape Twenty Years On

“Promise and Reversal: The Post-Soviet Landscape Twenty Years On,” marks the 20th anniversary of the failed Soviet coup of August 19, 1991. The retrospective essay examines the changes in the political rights and civil liberties in the former Soviet Union over the last two decades, as well as includes graphs and rankings that illustrate the region's performance in the annual Freedom House publications Freedom in the World and Freedom of the Press. The report  concludes that there is a serious and disturbing failure to embrace democratic institutions in most of the post-Soviet region.


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