Freedom House’s latest edition of Nations in Transit, which was released on April 11, says democratic governance declined for the 20th consecutive year in the 29 countries stretching from Central Europe to Central Asia.  

The report says the countries with the lowest “democracy scores” among the 29 nations were Turkmenistan (1.00), Tajikistan (1.04), Azerbaijan (1.07), and Russia (1.07).

Russia, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, and Kyrgyzstan's scores have reportedly dropped so far over the last 20 years that many of their scores have reached 1.00, the lowest possible.

The members of ethnic and religious minority groups reportedly also came under renewed attack.  The report notes that in Tajikistan, the authoritarian government repressed the Pamiri people of the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region, or GBAO. 

The Tajik government reportedly also shut down civic and political groups.  According to the report, Tajikistan's government has also replicated restrictive anti-NGO legislation from Russia, harassed and detained many activists; its civil society score has fallen by 2.25 point.

The report emphasizes that Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, which previously scored on the less repressive end of the authoritarian range, now fit the broader Central Asian trend of authoritarian consolidation. The regimes in these two countries worked to extinguish local autonomy and civil society activity, continuing a broader reduction in opportunities for public dissent.

The report says the countries with the highest “democracy scores” were Estonia (6.00), Latvia (5.79), and Slovenia (5.79).