Freedom House: Belarus is the only "Not Free" Country in Europe
WASHINGTON — Freedom House released its country reports on freedom in the world. Belarus remains the only European country classiffied as “Not Free”.
A few former Soviet Union countries did better — Ukraine and Baltic States are regarded “Free”, while Moldova, Georgia and Kyrgystan are “Partially Free”.
Here is the summary of the report on Belarus:
Hopes that President Alyaksandr Lukashenka might loosen his grip on Belarus in 2008 proved illusory. After brutal crackdowns and additional arrests, Belarus released all of its political prisoners in August. The regime also agreed to allow international observers to monitor its September parliamentary elections. However, the monitors determined that the elections did not meet democratic standards, and no opposition members won representation, leaving them without a platform to influence political processes.
Separately, the regime passed new legislation that tightened control over the media and extended it to the internet. Relations with Russia grew increasingly tense during the year, as Moscow continued to exert pressure to obtain higher prices for its energy exports and to acquire Belarusian companies through privatization. Despite strong European Union interest in improved relations, the absence of democratic reforms in Belarus made any progress extremely difficult.
Read full text of Freedom House report on Belarus at freedomhouse.org.