Ukraine – “Countries in transit” – Freedom House Report

June 8, 2012

Well Freedom House has just released its “Countries in Transit” report of which Ukraine is one.  Quite where Ukraine is transiting too is debatable, though there must be an assumption that Freedom House feels Ukraine should be transiting towards democracy – or if not democracy, certainly a set of basic fundamental human rights and protections thereof.

As I have previously written, whilst it is often politically expedient for politicians to compare nation A with nation B in an effort to state “At least we aren’t as bad as Country B” as some form of justification and legitimacy for their own policy failings, what really matters in comparisons is how Country A stands today in respect of how it stood historically.

That is what matters to the people who live within Country A.  Is it better or worse than before?  It is after all, possible for Country A to decline internally but still climb a Freedom House ranking because new counties have been added to the numbers, or other countries have declined faster than Country A.

So, we will leave the somewhat flawed picture that politically expedient international comparisons toss out to the populous as mitigation for their own policy failures, or the media for headlines that will sell copy, and look at how Ukraine has done in the past decade according to Freedom House vis a vis Ukraine.

It should be noted that the best possible score allocated by Freedom House is 1 and the worst is 7.

It is rather grim reading to see that Ukraine has been backsliding on almost every front, not with the current government alone, but also quite obviously under the last one as well, since 2006.

Now one could put the perceived improvements recorded in 2006 down to great expectations of the 2005, rather than an accurate reflection of reality, following the Orange Revolution.  That is the problem with opinion based surveys.  They tend to be emotional rather than reality based and therefore bias unintentionally or deliberately either through the slant of the surveyor, the surveyed, or both.

One can ponder if there has ever really been very much improvement whatsoever during the past decade, and whether the perceived improvement immediately following the Orange Revolution was nothing more than great expectations.  The relative slide backwards thereafter across most of the board was the slow dawning of the realisation that, in fact, nothing has changed since ex-President Kuchma.

Thus today’s overall score of 4.82 compared to a Kuchma score in 2003 of 4.71 maybe interpreted to be the reality that all illusionary bubbles and Orange Revolution hangovers have now, eventually, evaporated.  The population polled for this survey now realise there was actually no improvement between 2003, as shown by the consistent ebbing of hope during the tenure of the past, and present government as displayed in the above table.

If interpreted that way, it is certainly time for the new political faces of Yatseniuk, Tigipko and Koloevska to step forward and replace the old guard if there is to be another positive bump in perception across the above categories.

The question is, should that actually happen (and Ukraine not sentence itself to more years of Yanukovych or Tymoshenko), can they actually change anything? – Or would there still simply be another 2006 spike followed by yet another decline as reality set in?

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