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Freedom House Delegation visits Ukraine
A delegation from Freedom House, a human rights watchdog based in Washington, DC, returned to Ukraine this week to assess the state of democracy and human rights in the country. The delegation, which published an assessment entitled "Sounding the Alarm: Protecting Democracy in Ukraine" 14 months ago, will issue a new report in June with recommendations.
As part of the visit, the delegation met with President Viktor Yanukovych. Other meetings included Rada Chairman Volodymyr Lytvyn, other Rada deputies, Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka, Minister of Justice Oleksandr Lavrynovych, Security Services of Ukraine (SBU) Deputy Director Petro Shatkovsky, as well as civil society and media representatives and members of the opposition.
The delegation also met with two imprisoned opposition leaders, former Minister of Interior Yuri Lutsenko and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Those meetings occurred in Lukyanivska and Kachanivaska prisons respectively. The visit to Tymoshenko was the first by an independent international delegation since her transfer to prison in December 30, 2011.
"We recognize that there has been progress in some areas, including legislation on NGOs, the criminal procedure code, open government, and access to information, " said David J. Kramer, president of Freedom House. "At the same time, we are very concerned by the selective prosecution of key opposition figures, the family-ization of corruption, and stress the importance of free and fair elections in October 2012 for Ukraine’s democratic development."
The team welcomed the governments willingness to facilitate the visits with Lutsenko and Tymoshenko but expressed its concern about the lack of consistent medical attention for Tymoshenko and criminalizing political differences
Led by David Kramer, the delegation includes both Americans and Ukrainians: Robert Nurick, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council; Victoria Sjumar, director of the Institute for Mass Information; Olexander Sushko, research director of the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation and chair of the board of the International Renaissance Foundation; and Damon Wilson, executive vice president at the Atlantic Council. Matthew Schaaf, program officer at Freedom House, is also part of the group.
Ukraine is ranked Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2012, Freedom Houses survey of political rights and civil liberties, and Partly Free in Freedom of the Press 2011.
For more information on Ukraine, visit:
Freedom of the Press 2011: Ukraine
Nations in Transit 2011: Ukraine
Blog: Prime ministers in the dock
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.