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The latest from Freedom House:

Freedom House is deeply concerned by news of a violent attack on journalist Yelena Milashina of the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta and calls on the Russian authorities to investigate the attack and quickly bring to justice those responsible. A Freedom House employee, Ella Asoyan, was also injured in the attack.

Freedom House calls for a peaceful and orderly transition of power in Malawi following the death of President Bingu wa Mutharika.  State media reported on April 5 that the 78-year-old president was hospitalized in the capital city of Lilongwe and then transferred to South Africa for treatment.  Although the government has withheld an official announcement, BBC and Reuters cite doctors and cabinet ministers who confirmed the president’s death following cardiac arrest.  Under the constitution, Vice President Joyce Banda should assume the presidency until the next elections in 2014.

The number of journalists imprisoned in Turkey has nearly doubled, according to a new study published by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which noted that 95 journalists are in Turkish prisons today, up from 57 in 2011.  Freedom House welcomes the report and  joins the OSCE in calling on Turkey to reform its media laws, which include vague anti-terrorism provisions that have been used for years to imprison journalists for allegedly disseminating statements and propaganda from terrorist organizations.

Freedom House calls on the Ugandan government to immediately reverse its decision to ban opposition group Action For Change on the eve of a planned demonstration, a move which is in direct violation of the universal right to free assembly. Action for Change was responsible for organizing the “Walk to Work” campaign and protests, rallying thousands of citizens to protest rising fuel and food prices. On April 4, Uganda’s Attorney General authorized the decision to declare the group as “illegal” after the government accused the group of organizing violent protests “without consulting police.”

A delegation from Freedom House, a human rights watchdog based in Washington, DC, returned to Ukraine this week to assess the state of democracy and human rights in the country. The delegation, which published an assessment entitled "Sounding the Alarm: Protecting Democracy in Ukraine" 14 months ago, will issue a new report in June with recommendations.

The magazine Commentary once published an article titled, “Has There Ever Been Anything Like the Soviet Union?” The piece appeared during the last decades of the Cold War, and the title was meant to convey the message that in the long and sordid annals of despotism, the USSR was unique—in the completeness of its totalitarian scheme, in the staying power of its mechanisms of control, in its global reach, and in its determination to assemble a terrifying arsenal even as its domestic economy lay in ruins. Eventually, of course, the Soviet Union succumbed, but for over 70 years it survived and even thrived as a model of anti-freedom that inspired regimes ranging from East Germany to North Korea.

According to media reports, Moscow police conducted an unannounced raid on April 4 of privately-owned Russian TV channel, REN-TV. Police claim the move was part of an investigation into the alleged illegal activities of the Russian “Antifa” antiracism movement. REN-TV editors confirmed that the police seized a 2009 television segment on the group.

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