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Freedom House Says Liberty Under Attack in Europe, Central Asia


FILE - A woman lays a bunch of flowers at a place where Boris Nemtsov was gunned down on Feb. 27, 2015.

A democracy advocacy group says that freedoms across Europe are increasingly under attack by authoritarian states.

In a report released Tuesday, the Washington-based Freedom House assessed 29 countries across Central Europe and Eurasia, and said nearly half suffered downgrades in their democracy scores.

Project director for the report, Sylvana Habdank-Kolaczkowska, said "Eurasia's authoritarian regimes tirelessly warn their people that moves toward democracy as seen in Ukraine can only end in chaos, violence, and poverty."

She said to counter such measures, the EU and its allies must do more to uphold democratic standards within Europe.

Freedom House says Russia earned its largest rating decline in a decade in 2014 because of suppressing dissension at home and seeking to destabilize Ukraine. It said Ukraine received four ratings improvements that year following the collapse of what it called Viktor Yanukovych's "corrupt" presidency.

In the Balkans, four out of seven countries registered declines, including Montenegro and Serbia for threats to media independence.

In Central and Eastern Europe, the only country to register an overall score improvement was the Czech Republic, where the report said conditions calmed after political scandals and instability in 2013.

Freedom House said conditions remain "dire" in Belarus, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, which had the lowest scores of the report.

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