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On the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, CNN's Global Public Square looks at Freedom House's rankings of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Republics to see how those liberated countries have actually fared.

The world’s leading democracies have a poor record of responding to the rise of authoritarianism in their own regions, according to a Freedom House report released today.

Arch Puddington
Vice President for Research

A quarter-century after the 1989 revolutions, freedom prevails in Central Europe, but some politicians are turning their backs on democratic values at home and new liberation struggles abroad.

In a new report, Freedom House highlights Russia's pivotal role in a decade-long decline in democracy among the countries of the post-Soviet sphere.

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Policing Belief: The Impact of Blasphemy Laws on Human Rights

Policing Belief: The Impact of Blasphemy Laws on Human Rights examines the human rights implications of domestic blasphemy and religious insult laws using the case studies of seven countries—Algeria, Egypt, Greece, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Poland—where such laws exist both on paper and in practice. Without exception, blasphemy laws violate the fundamentalfreedom of expression, as they are by definition intended to protect religious institutions and religious doctrine– i.e., abstract ideas and concepts – from insult or offence. At their most benign, such laws lead to self-censorship.  In Greece and Poland, two of the more democratic countries examined in the study, charges brought against high-profile artists, curators and writers serve as a warning to others that certain topics are off limits. At their worst, in countries such as Pakistan and Malaysia, such laws lead to overt governmental censorship and individuals are both prosecuted and subject to severe criminal penalties including lengthy jail sentences.

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