Washington briefing: DC think tanks: Armenia, ex-USSR backsliding on democracy

by Emil Sanamyan

Published: Saturday July 04, 2009

Washington - Democratic decline in Central Europe and Eurasia was widespread in 2008, according to the Nations in Transit publication released by the Washington-based Freedom House on June 30. Freedom House researchers determined that democracy in 18 of 29 countries studied suffered setbacks.

Among the former Soviet states, Georgia and Ukraine were described as "hybrid regimes" with both democratic and authoritarian tendencies, and Armenia and Moldova as "semi-consolidated authoritarian regimes."

Kyrgyzstan and Russia joined Belarus, Azerbaijan, and other Central Asian countries in a group that Freedom House calls "consolidated authoritarian states." The report singled out "petro-state Azerbaijan," which "recorded the most significant declines" in terms of democratic development.

The researchers determined that perceived democratic gains made in Georgia and Kyrgyzstan following the so-called Rose and Tulip revolutions in 2003 and 2005 were fully reversed by 2008.

Freedom House also criticized international monitors "that issued positive statements about elections in 2008 that were clearly flawed, such as those in Azerbaijan and Armenia."

Another study, released the same day by the Washington-based Brookings Institution and the World Bank, looked at evolution of democracy, governance, and corruption in 212 countries and territories between 1998 and 2008.

According to Worldwide Governance Indicators, Armenia has been backsliding in one of the six categories studied, "voice and accountability," reflecting problematic handling of elections.

Varying degrees of progress were noted in five other areas studied, including political stability, government effectiveness, regulatory quality, rule of law, and control of corruption.

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