Jan 29, 2015

Crimean Tatars: Civil Liberties and Political Rights Declining according to Freedom House

In its recent publication ‘Freedom in the World – 2015’, Freedom House has ranked Crimea as ‘not free’ with a rating of 6.5 out of 7. The human rights organization ranks civil and political rights in states on a scale from 1 to 7, with 7 being reserved for the societies with the most repressed civil and political rights. Russia received an overall rating of 6, while Crimea was assessed separately. The rating illustrates the continued discrimination and struggles faced by Crimean Tatars on a daily basis.


Below is an article published by the Kyiv Post:


Freedom in Ukraine has improved, while civil liberties are on the decline in Russia. The situation in Russian-annexed Crimea is even worse than in the Russian Federation as a whole. These are the results of the research "Freedom in the World - 2015," published by the international human rights organization Freedom House. 

Ukraine's status is "partly free," the general freedom rating is 3 (1 = best, 7 = worst). It is based on two main indicators: political rights and civil liberties. Ukraine's political rights rating rose from 4 to 3. The study authors explain this by improvements in political pluralism, parliamentary elections, and government transparency following the departure of President Viktor Yanukovych. 

Russia's status is "not free," the general freedom rating is 6. Civil liberties rating declined from 5 to 6 due to expanded media controls, a dramatically increased level of propaganda on state-controlled television, and new restrictions on the ability of some citizens to travel abroad.

Annexed by Russia, Ukraine's Crimean peninsula, evaluated separately for the first time for Freedom in the World 2015, emerged with a dismal freedom rating of 6.5 on a 7-point scale and a "not free" status, reflecting repressive conditions in which residents-especially Crimean Tatars and others who opposed the forced annexation-were deprived of their political rights and civil liberties. 

"The Russian occupation authorities use intimidation and harassment to eliminate any public opposition to the annexation of Crimea and to the current government. The Russian Federal Security Service, the local police, and "self-defense" units made up of pro-Russian residents enforce this political order," states the report.

Generally the level of freedom in the world is reduced ninth year in a row and is now the worst in the last 25 years. The state of freedom in 2014 worsened significantly in nearly every part of the world, stated in the report of the Freedom House.

Researchers admit a more explicit rejection of democratic standards. Until recently, most authoritarian regimes claimed to respect international agreements and paid lip service to the norms of competitive elections and human rights. They now increasingly flout democratic values, argue for the superiority of what amounts to one-party rule, and seek to throw off the constraints of fundamental diplomatic principles.

"Russia's invasion of Ukraine, including the outright seizure and formal annexation of Crimea, is the prime example of this phenomenon. The Russian intervention was in direct violation of an international agreement that had guaranteed Ukraine's territorial integrity. President Vladimir Putin made his contempt for the values of liberal democracy unmistakably clear. He and his aides equated raw propaganda with legitimate journalism, treated human rights activists as enemies of the state, and denounced the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community as moral degenerates. ", vice president for research Arch Puddington says in his statement.

It is also mentioned that both China and Russia have made use of one of the Cold War's most chilling instruments, the placement of dissidents in psychiatric hospitals.

The authoritarian regimes continue to use the quasi-democratic camouflage that allowed them to survive and prosper in the post-Cold War world. Again, the most blatant example is Russia's invasion of Ukraine, whose official justifications included ethnic nationalist, irredentist claims and which quickly drew comparisons to the land grabs of Hitler or Stalin.

"The move exposed Moscow as a committed enemy of European peace and democratization rather than a would-be strategic partner," - Arch Puddington concluded. - "Authoritarian Russia's invasion has created a crisis like none seen in Europe since the Balkan wars of the 1990s. The aggression was precipitated in part by a confrontation between the Ukrainian people and their increasingly authoritarian president, following decades of corrupt Ukrainian administrations."