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Watchdog Cites ‘Troubling Deterioration’ For Civil Society In Eurasia
ICC Note:
While this article does not directly mention religious freedom, it must be noted that in Central Asia one of the civil societies or minorities they are referring to is that of Christians and other religious minorities. “usually targeting freedom of assembly” directly correlates to churches and believers denied the right to meet for worship, or being arrested-raided-fined if they do not register with the government to do so.
By Heather Maher
06/18/2013 Central Asia (RadioFreeEurope)–…The annual analysis of democratic development from Central Europe to Central Asia says there has been a “troubling deterioration” in conditions for civil society across Eurasia.
“In Eurasia, the story we saw in 2012 was one of authoritarian leadership aggressively cracking down on civil society activity,” project director Sylvana Habdank-Kołaczkowska told RFE/RL in connection with the new report. “The biggest ratings change we saw on any of our indicators were related to civil society crackdowns. In some cases, this was a matter of deeply entrenched authoritarian regimes just sort of digging their heels in further, passing new legislation that further restricted civil society activities — usually targeting freedom of assembly but on a number of issues. Sometimes it was real violence against protesters.”
Knock-On Repression
Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan have again been rated the worst in the region for civil society. Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, and Belarus were cited for increased persecution of perceived enemies, and Kazakhstan’s government is faulted for cracking down on labor organizers.
Freedom House President David Kramer said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s return to office last year brought a return of “the worst repression Russians have suffered since the fall of the Soviet Union.”
He said Putin has used his authority over the legislature, media, and the judiciary to impose new policies “designed to muzzle political opposition and civil society activism.”
That has emboldened other autocrats in the region to follow suit, he said.
Legislation restricting public assembly, religious activity, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) was adopted not only by Russia but also Kazakhstan, Belarus, Azerbaijan, and Tajikistan. All five countries were downgraded on the group’s Nations In Transit civil-society indicator.

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