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The Year In Review

The good people at RFE/RL's Information Unit have compiled this summary of Russia's ranking in some of the major annual global development surveys:

Freedom in the World Index by Freedom House: Not Free
"Outgoing president Vladimir Putin manipulated the 2008 presidential election to install a designated successor—Dmitry Medvedev—and retain real power for himself as the new prime minister. The arrangement effectively subordinated constitutional structures to informal relationships, and the ostensibly new administration continued to implement Putin’s authoritarian restrictions on media coverage and the activities of nongovernmental organizations, particularly those with foreign funding."

Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders: 153/175
"Russia (153rd) tumbled 12 places, below Belarus for the first time. The reasons for this fall, three years after Anna Politkovskaya’s murder, include continuing murders of journalists and human rights activists who help to inform the population, and physical attacks on local media representatives. They also include the return with increasing force of censorship and reporting taboos and the complete failure to punish those responsible for the murders."

Corruption Perceptions Index by Transparency International: 146/180
"In Russia, a newly-adopted package of anti-corruption legislation initiated and promoted by President Medvedev and passed by the Duma in December 2008 has yet to have an effect. The president recently admitted publicly that corruption is endemic in Russia. The excessive role of government in the economy and business sector, which spurs the supply side of corruption, aggravates the problem."

Happy Planet Index by New Economics Foundation: 108/143
"Positive trajectories are seen in some countries; for example, in Germany (an increase of 23 per cent between 1990 and 2005), Russia (up 30 per cent) and Brazil (up 13 per cent)."

Legatum Prosperity Index by Legatum Institute: 69/104
"There is little respect for political and civil rights in Russia, ranking the country 86th on both variables. The Russian government has few constraints on its power and has demonstrated autocratic leanings. Multiple parties compete in elections, at both executive and legislative levels, with reasonably open political competition. The judiciary is not independent from the government, and has demonstrated itself to be highly influenced by executive discretion. Change to the political system occurred less than 10 years ago, pushing Russia’s rank in regime stability to 87th."

Index of Economic Freedom 2009 by WSJ/Heritage: 146/179
"State involvement in economic activity remains considerable, and institutional constraints on economic freedom are severe. Non-tariff barriers add significantly to the cost of trade. Inflation is high, and prices are heavily controlled and influenced by the government. Virtually all foreign investment faces official and unofficial hurdles, including bureaucratic inconsistency, corruption, and outright restrictions in lucrative sectors like energy. Corruption weakens the rule of law and increases the fragility of property rights and the arbitrariness of law enforcement."
-- Robert Coalson

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The Power Vertical
The Power Vertical

The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It offers Brian's personal take on emerging and developing trends in Russian politics, shining a spotlight on the high-stakes power struggles, machinations, and clashing interests that shape Kremlin policy today. Check out The Power Vertical Facebook page or


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