Freedom in the World
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South Ossetia *
Freedom Rating (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Civil Liberties (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Political Rights (1 = best, 7 = worst)
South Ossetia received a downward trend arrow due to Russia’s increased control over the economy and political system, and Russian aid that has fueled rampant corruption among local elites.
Russia tightened its grip on South Ossetia in 2009, formalizing the presence of Russian border guards in the territory and constructing a new military base in Tskhinvali. Russian president Dmitri Medvedev pledged additional funds for South Ossetia in July, but reconstruction efforts have been painfully slow and mired in corruption. Meanwhile, a series of incidents in the summer increased the threat of new fighting with Georgia, and the more than 18,500 ethnic Georgians who fled South Ossetia during the 2008 war remained unable to return during the year.
As of the end of 2009, only Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Nauru had joined Russia in recognizing the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Though South Ossetia conducts elections, they are not monitored or recognized by independent observers. Most ethnic Georgians have either declined to or been unable to participate in such elections.
Russian authorities have barred ethnic Ossetians from entering Georgia, but they can travel freely into Russia.
As Russia increased its economic control over the territory in 2009, local elites also siphoned funds earmarked for rehabilitation projects, including construction.