Serious setback of press freedom registered in South Caucasus

Reporters Without Borders international organization has just released its annual press freedom index, compiled annually, which has revealed a serious setback in press freedom in the South Caucasus region.

The index. which is compiled by filling in a questionnaire with 49 criteria that assess the state of press freedom in each country, coveres 173 countries overall. This year’s index has revealed, that the most serious degradation of press freedom in the world has taken place in our region: in Georgia and Armenia.

Armenia, which was on 77-th position on the index last year has slipped down to 102-nd position, most probably due to the introduction of emergency rule on March 1-20, illegal pre-emptive censorship applied in the same period in Yerevan’s publishing houses as well as numerous attacks against journalists and the continous state control of the broadcast sphere. Interestingly, Turkey shares the 102-nd position with us.

A more dramatic fall has been registered in Georgia’s rating: the country was on the rather advanced, 66th position in 2007, but has fallen to 120th position.

Azerbaijan continues to steadily fall in the index: a fall by 11 points was registered this year. From 137th position of last year Azerbaijan is now on the 150th. Iran is again on position 166, thus concluding the picture of restrictive and undemocratic South Caucasian region.

The situation has very slightly improved in Russia with the coming of president Dmitri Medvedev, although, recalling their media coverage of the war in Georgia, I find this rather surprising. An improvement by 3 points was registered here, the country has moved from 144th to 141st slot in the RSF index.

The first slots in the rating are again occupied by Iceland, Luxembourg, Norway. The index is tailed by Myanmar (Burma), Turkmenistan, North Korea, Eritrea.

Armenia Improved its Rating in Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2007

Mark Grigoryan reports, that the “Reporters sans frontiers” annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index has been released, and brings the places occupied by the countries of post-soviet space, contesting them with the ratings of UK and USA:

Estonia – 3-4
Latvia – 12
Lithuenia – 23
UK – 24
USA – 48
Georgia – 66
Armenia – 77
Moldova – 81
Ukraine – 92-93
Kyrgyzstan – 110
Tajikistan – 115
Kazakhstan – 125
Azerbaijan – 139
Russia – 144
Belarus – 151
Uzbekistan – 160
Turkmenistan – 167

There is a total of 169 countries in the list. The full list can be found here (on the organization’s site).

Uzogh has done some research on the subject and come up with an interesting question: “With Azerbaijan everything is clear – they just like to put journalists to jail. With Georgia everything is clear too. What I don’t understand is our rating – we have jumped from 101st place to 77th. How did that happen?” There are some really interesting speculations in the comments section of Uzogh’s blog around the subject, but I suggest you go take a look at them there (if you know Russian of course).

Here are also a couple of links for your convenience:
Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2007, Questionnaire for compiling a 2007 world press freedom index, Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2006, Questionnaire for compiling a 2006 world press freedom index