On April 29 the international human rights organization “Freedom House” released its annual report on freedom of press in the world in 2009. “Freedom House” assessed the media situation by assigning a numerical score from 1 to 100 on the following categories: free (1-30 points), partly free (31-60 points), not free (61-100) – the lower the score, the higher the freedom. The latter was defined by three dimensions: legal, political and economic environments in which media operate. The sum of all three dimensions yielded the cumulative rating of the media situation in each country.
Out of 196 countries and territories surveyed in 2009 in 69 (or 35%) media were recognized free, in 64 (or 33%) – partly free and in 63 (or 32%) were rated not free. Only 16% or only one of six inhabitants in the world live in countries that enjoy free press, 44% have a partly free press, and 40% – not free press. “Freedom House” revealed an overall negative shift in media freedom worldwide throughout 8 years. The list of 2009 is topped by Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden (10 points each), followed by Denmark (11 points), Belgium and Luxembourg (12 points each).
Of the post-Soviet countries only the press of the three Baltic States is recognized by “Freedom House” to be free, and only Ukraine (53 points) and Georgia (59 points) are classed as partly free. Ukraine and Georgia continue to be in this category for already 6 years. At the same time, the situation of freedom of expression in both countries has somewhat improved comparing with 2008 (55 and 60 points, respectively). Other former USSR countries’ media continue to stay not free. Turkmenistan (95) ranks the second from the end (North Korea closes the list – 99). Also, as compared to 2008, the rankings of Kazakhstan and Tajikistan have not changed either (78 each). The situation has somewhat deteriorated in Kyrgyzstan – 73 (versus 72 in 2008), Azerbaijan – 79 (versus 78), Russia – 81 (versus 80), Belarus – 92 (versus 91). On the contrary the indexes of Uzbekistan – 92 (versus 93) and Moldova – 65 points (versus 67) have improved a little.
The ranking of Armenia which got 66 points has moved up (versus 68 in 2008). According to “Freedom House”, the improved scores of Moldova and Armenia “are a result of reduced censorship and restrictions on news coverage”. It should be noted that the Armenian media are considered not free for eight years on end (since 2002).