12:40 Apr. 12, 2016
Ukraine 'remains the single most important opportunity for establishing democracy' in the region
In a new report, Freedom House warns that economic woes are threatening the stability of "entrenched dictatorships" in the former Soviet Union, the migration crisis is fueling populism in Eastern Europe, and reforms in the Balkans are in retreat.
Russian President Vladimir Putin's "naked embrace of autocracy" deepened in 2015, the U.S.-based human rights group says.
Freedom House made the assessments in its annual Nations In Transit report, which monitors the democratic development of 29 countries in the former Soviet Union, the Balkans, and Central Europe. It was published on April 12.
Ukraine "remains the single most important opportunity for establishing democracy" in the region, the report says.
The government achieved "some progress" in reforms in 2015, but continuing Russian occupation of Crimea, the separatist conflict in the country's east, widespread corruption, and impunity for crimes during the political upheaval of 2014 are holding back further progress.