Evolution of Democracy and Personal Freedoms
On a more positive note, one sees that Ukraine’s transition on the dimensions of democracy, personal freedoms and civil society is considerably better than that of its FSU neighbors. Thus one sees in Fig. 3.7, that while Ukraine’s Freedom House rating is far from that of Central Europe and the Baltics, it has, through most of the period, scored better than the FSU groups. While one sees a clear move towards authoritarianism in most of the FSU after the limited initial improvements of the early nineties, Ukraine does not exhibit such a trend, although some vacillations towards less democracy do occur in the second Kuchma term, and under Yanukovich since 2010. Together with Georgia, Ukraine remains among the most democratic countries in the FSU. More detailed quantitative indicators of democracy, like personal freedoms and freedom of the press, are not presented here. But it is notable that these generally show Ukraine to be among the best among the FSU countries, even if it is still lagging behind Central Europe. Indeed, offsetting many economic failures of the Orange Revolution, one must note that organizations such as Freedom House, UN Human Rights Commission, and others give Ukraine very
Fig. 3.7 Freedom Rating by Country Groups 1990-2016 (Source: Freedom House Annual Reports on Democracy) high scores in the years 2005-10. While analysts insist on painting the pictures of countries with sometimes dry statistics, the world’s population needs little convincing that the Ukrainian people yearn for personal freedoms and democracy. The strong underlying desire for democracy on the part of the demos was evidenced by the Orange Revolution, and even more so by the EuroMaidan. After the great disillusionment of the Orange Revolution, most analysts did not expect the people to be prepared to come out on the streets again, despite the egregious abuses of authority by the Yanukovich regime. That they did is a clear sign of the strength of democratic urges in society.