Freedom House: Freedom Retreats for Third Year

Freedom retreated in much of the world in 2008, the third year of global decline as measured by Freedom House’s annual survey of political rights and civil liberties which released today.
Freedom in the World 2009 survey examines the state of freedom in all 193 countries and 16 strategic territories. The survey analyzes developments that occurred in 2008 and assigns each country a freedom status — either Free, Partly Free or Not Free based on a scoring of performance in key freedoms.
Non-Baltic countries of the former Soviet Union continued their decade-long decline, now ranking below Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East on several survey indicators. Russia and Georgia, which went to war over South Ossetia, were among the region’s notable declines, as well as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and Moldova.
Free: The number of countries judged by Freedom in the World as Free in 2008 stands at 89, representing 46 percent of the world’s countries and 46 percent of the global population. The number of Free countries declined by one from 2007.
Partly Free: The number of Partly Free countries is 62, or 32 percent of all countries assessed by the survey and 20 percent of the world’s total population. The number of Partly Free countries increased by two.
Not Free: The report designates 42 countries as Not Free, representing 22 percent of the total number of countries and 34 percent of the world population. Nearly 60 percent of this number lives in China. The number of Not Free countries declined by one.
Electoral Democracies: The number of electoral democracies dropped by two and stands at 119. Developments in Mauritania, Georgia, Venezuela and Central African Republic disqualified them from the electoral democracy list, while Bosnia-Herzegovina and Bangladesh became electoral democracies.

$4 for Yerevan-Gyumri travel on a wooden chair

Hand-made wooden chair in Yerevan-Gyumri minibus (c) Artur Papyan, The Armenian Observer blog, January 2009

My last trip from Yerevan to Gyumri was quite an experience.  The car was slow and dirty, the driver kept stopping with 15 passengers inside first to load the little free space left in the minibus with some boxes and a large stack of flowers, tied in bundles, which he obviously was going to deliver to some flower service in Gyumri and get extra money for it. He than stopped to pick up one more passenger and handed him a hand-made wooden chair (we call those with Russian word ‘taburetka’) for the latter to sit on while travelling the 2 hour long trip. To crown it all – the driver, who never stopped smoking for a minute and kept the driver’s window open for the smoke to go out in freezing winter weather, decided to stop for a natural gas refill station in Mastara (a  place half-ways between Gyumri and Yerevan).  Continue reading “$4 for Yerevan-Gyumri travel on a wooden chair”

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