Freedom House presents its latest Nations in Transit – 2016 report

On the 28th of April 2016 in Kyiv the Freedom House in cooperation with the International Renaissance Foundation presented its latest “Nations in Transit – 2016” report, which is a research project on democracy in the 29 formerly communist countries from Central Europe to Central Asia.

The discussion focused on Ukraine Chapter of the report, written by Research Director of the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation in Kyiv Dr. Oleksandr Sushko and Executive Director of the Ukrainian Think Tanks Liaison Office in Brussels Dr. Olena Prystayko.

DSC_4817In general terms, Ukraine has improved its ranking of democracy from 4.75 points in 2015 to 4.68 points in 2016 (on a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 being the most democratic, and 7 the least). While Ukraine falls far short of the performance of EU members covered by Nations in Transit, it actually outperforms the average of official current and potential candidates in Nations in Transit area on three out of seven indicators — civil society, electoral process, and independent media. Ukraine scores worse on corruption and the judiciary.

DSC_4836«Ukraine still has an enormous amount of work to do to reach the levels of the EU member states in democratic performance», said Nate Schenkkan, Freedom House Project Director. “But the transformation must be transformative. There must be a change in the sytem of governance, not only in its leaders.”

The authors of Ukraine Chapter in NIT report Olena Prystayko and Oleksandr Sushko highlighted the importance of the annual survey on democracy in Nations in Transit region as it allows to monitor not only the dynamics within one country over the years, but make a comparative analysis of neighbouring countries in all seven categories, as the survey applies the same methodology to each country.

“The findings of the report indicate an unhealthy dichotomy in the society. On one hand, there is strong and mobilised civil society in Ukraine and relatively strong media. But on the other hand, nothing has been done to tackle corruption and judiciary problems over the decade,” said Mrs Prystayko. “Ukraine’s civil society seems to stay outside the old system and needs to find a way to break it.”

All participants agreed that Ukraine’s most urgent tasks for 2016 are addressing corruption and adopting related reforms of the judiciary. Respect for human rights cannot be neglected even if the country is facing Russian aggression and some of its territories are under occupation. “In the war with Russia we do not only defend our territory, but the values we stand for,” said Oleksandra Matviichuk, a human rights defender and Euromaidan SOS representative.