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The latest from Freedom House:

Freedom House issued a report today that showed an almost across-the-board retreat from democratic norms in Egypt since the July coup that removed President Mohamed Morsi from power. This latest edition of Freedom House’s Egypt Democracy Compass, covering developments in the month of August, indicated an intensification of antidemocratic trends as the military leadership resorted to violent tactics to disperse supporters of the ousted Muslim Brotherhood–led government from their protest encampments in Cairo and other cities.

Khadija Ismayilova, a renowned Azerbaijani investigative journalist and an RFE/RL reporter, has been targeted in another vicious rhetorical attack in the state-run media. Ismayilova, who has been investigating allegations of unethical business dealings of President Ilham Aliyev and questioning the sources of Azerbaijan’s ruling family assets, has been blackmailed and defamed a number of times over the past year, including twice this week.

As the United States and its allies consider military action to punish the use of chemical weapons in Syria, Iranian regime media have made hay of new evidence that Washington enabled Saddam Hussein’s chemical attacks on Iran during the Iran-Iraq war. Readers are also reminded that the United States used weapons like napalm and toxic chemical defoliants in Vietnam, among other historical infractions. In other words, America is accused of glaring hypocrisy. But inconsistent behavior should be condemned only when the swerve in question is toward error or wrongdoing. When the change is from bad to good, it should be welcomed.

Сегодня российские и международные правозащитные организации запускают кампанию “Гори огонь надежды”: в рамках которой они призывают главы государств “Группы двадцати”  в рамках встречи в Санкт-Петербурге 5-6 сентября потребовать от России остановить нарушения прав человека и растущее преследование гражданского общества .

Freedom House welcomes today's long overdue release of Zmitser Dashkevich, the leader of the unregistered Belarusian youth movement Malady Front (Young Front). We hope that he will remain free and that other political prisoners being held in Belarus will be released.

Photo Caption: Hailemariam Desalegn, current prime minister of Ethiopia
Photo courtesy Frontline Defenders

Ethiopian Prime Minister The death of Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi in August 2012 after two decades in power sparked hope that the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) would undertake reforms to open up the political system and loosen the harsh restrictions imposed on civil society, the media, and opposition parties. However, one year into the administration of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Meles’s successor, not much has changed in the highly repressive country.

Since Putin’s return to the presidency, the Russian government has unleashed a crackdown on civil society, targeting in particular human rights defenders protecting the rights of minority groups. The ‘Keep Hope Alive’ campaign asks world leaders to speak up during the G20 meeting in St. Petersburg to challenge Russia to reverse this trend and to comply with its international human rights obligations.