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The authoritarian countries of the former Soviet Union have built governance systems that are resistant to reform and therefore increasingly vulnerable to unpredictable crises of the sort recently seen in the Middle East and North Africa, according to a new study released by Freedom House.

Freedom House today joins the chorus of voices in the U.S. and Europe who have spoken out to condemn the decision by the Russian Ministry of Justice to deny registration to the Party of People’s Freedom (PARNAS). Unless reversed, this decision will prevent PARNAS from participating in Russia’s December Duma elections and represents yet another step back in Russia’s commitments to democratic principles.

Freedom House today released the following statement regarding the passing of Russian human rights activist, Elena Bonner: In her long career as a dissident and freedom advocate, Elena Bonner became all-too-familiar with the full range of threats and methods of emotional blackmail that the Soviet authorities employed against enemies of the totalitarian state. One form of intimidation—and it was something critics of the Soviet system had to take seriously—was to threaten to lock her up in a mental institution and force feed her a regimen of psychotropic drugs. Another squalid tactic was to intimate that reprisals would be taken against her children if she continued to speak out about Soviet injustice.

Freedom House applauds last week’s appointment of a UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran and calls on the newly-appointed Dr. Ahmed Shaheed to investigate the condition of Iranian political prisoners as his first order of duty.

Freedom House welcomes recent international actions regarding the deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus, including the European Union’s (EU) extension of economic sanctions against the Lukashenka regime and its associates, and a strong condemnatory resolution by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

Freedom House welcomes yesterday’s statement by the United States at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva listing Bahrain as one of several countries that should receive additional scrutiny by the body and urges stronger U.S. and international action in response to the ongoing abuses in that country.

The Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) and Freedom House today announced the launch of the Belarus Working Group, a bipartisan gathering of leading scholars, analysts and former policymakers tasked with identifying sustainable and impactful Western strategies for supporting Belarusian civil society and dealing with “Europe’s last dictatorship.” Co-chaired by CEPA President A. Wess Mitchell and Freedom House President David J. Kramer, the findings of the project will provide an actionable policy roadmap for catalyzing democratic change in the country.

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