On April 27 international human rights organization “Freedom House” published
its annual press freedom study for 2004.
“While press freedom registered important gains in some key countries in 2004,
notable setbacks occurred in the United States and elsewhere in the Americas.
Increased restrictions were also detected in parts of Asia, Africa and the former
Soviet Union”, was the conclusion of “Freedom House” researchers after evaluating
the media situation in 194 countries and territories of the world.
The media situation was assessed by “Freedom House” by assigning a numerical
score from 1 to 100 by the following categories: free (1-30 points), partly
free (31-60 points), not free (61-100) – the lower the score, the higher the
freedom. The latter was determined by three parameters: legislative environment
in which media operate, political influences on reporting and access to information,
and economic pressures on content and the dissemination of news. Summing up
results on these parameters cumulative rating of the media situation in each
specific country was derived.
The overall level of press freedom worldwide, in the opinion of the report
authors, worsened, continuing a three-year downward trend. Out of all the countries
examined, 75 (39%) were rated free, 50 (26%) – partly free and 69 (35%) – not
“Even in established democracies press freedom should not be taken for granted”,
said “Freedom House” Executive Director Jennifer Windsor. “It must be defended
In 2004, similarly to 2003, the Armenian rating made 64 points. In other words,
Armenian media for the third year on end remain in the category of not free,
to which they were downgraded in 2002.
The press of the three Baltic States was assessed as free. As to other former
Soviet Union countries, the situation there remained deeply troubled, the “Freedom
House” report noted.
In comparison with 2003, in 2004 the situation worsened by two points in Moldova
(65), by one point in Russia (68), Azerbaijan (72), Tajikistan (74) and Kazakhstan
(75). Similarly to Armenia, the rating of Kyrgyzstan remained unchanged in 2004
(71). The media of all these countries were assessed as not free. The most unfavorable
situation is in Uzbekistan (85 points versus 84 in 2003), in Belarus (86 points
versus 84 in 2003) and Turkmenistan (96 points versus 95 in 2003), that took
the last place but one in the rating of the countries studied, going ahead of
North Korea only.
Only two CIS countries are currently in the category of partly free – Georgia
and Ukraine. While the situation of Georgian media in 2004 deteriorated by two
points (56 points versus 54 in 2003-2002), they remained in this category. The
only positive shift in the post-Soviet space, as “Freedom House” thinks, occurred
in Ukraine: going up by 9 points (59 points versus 68 in 2003), this country
was upgraded to the category of partly free from the category of not free. In
the opinion of “Freedom House”, this occurred due to the course reversion of
this country after the Orange Revolution in November 2004.