Freedom House denounces the ruling of a Ukrainian court on Tuesday convicting former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko of abuse of power and sentencing her to seven years’ imprisonment. This conviction will have serious consequences for Ukraine’s international standing as well as for its democratic aspirations to greater integration with Europe. In light of the court’s decision, Freedom House urges the European Union to suspend its bilateral negotiations on free trade and association agreements with Ukraine until the Yanukovych government exhibits greater respect for the rule of law.
Hong Kong authorities reportedly barred Chinese dissident Dr. Yang Jianli from entering the territory on October 7 to attend a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Xinhai Revolution (Chinese Revolution of 1911). Dr. Yang, a Tiananmen Square activist in 1989 who earned two PhDs in the United States, was blacklisted in China for his pro-democracy activities.
It is an increasingly common occurrence for repressive countries with dismal human rights records to put themselves forward as hosts for major international forums—whether in the sphere of sports and entertainment or in politics.
Freedom House applauds the decision by the Nobel committee to award the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize to three female leaders from the Middle East and North Africa: Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee and Yemeni activist Tawakkul Karman. All three women played a vital role in promoting women’s rights and democratic change in challenging environments that have been historically hostile to the advancement of women.
When Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin announced last week that he intended—and had always intended—to return to the presidency, he effectively tore down a flimsy veil of constitutional rectitude that had separated Russia from the autocracies of Central Asia. For over four years, Russians were invited to believe that unlike the perpetual presidents in those countries, their leader would uphold the rule of law and make way for new blood in the form of his chosen successor, Dmitri Medvedev. Now, however, it appears that Medvedev’s entire presidency was an artifice designed to circumvent the ban on more than two consecutive terms.