A persistent decline in democratic performance in Central Europe and Central Asia for the past 20 years was revealed in the annual report “Nations in Transit 2024” by Freedom House, the international human rights organization. The report covers 29 countries in the region.

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, and other events in recent years “have accelerated a geopolitical reordering in the region, with countries sorting themselves into two opposing blocs: those committed to a liberal, democratic order and those that violently reject it”, the report stated.

Over the past year, 10 countries in the region suffered declines in Democracy Score, while just five earned improvements. Experts attribute the region’s “failure” in consolidating democracy to authoritarian and anti-democratic leaders.

Freedom House classified Democracy Scores in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Russia and all Central Asian countries as “Consolidated Authoritarian Regimes”. Among the “Hybrid Regime” countries are Armenia, Georgia, Hungary, Moldova, Ukraine and others, totalling 11 states.

The “Semi-Consolidated Democracies” category encompassed 10 countries, including Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland.

Freedom House notes that all eight countries in the “Consolidated Authoritarian Regimes” category continued to “lead the race to the bottom” over the past year. Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, which “previously scored one the less repressive end of the authoritarian range, now fit the broader Central Asian trend of authoritarian consolidation,” according to the organization.

Uzbekistan received a Democracy Score of 1.18 out of a possible 7 points in Freedom House’s assessment. Last year’s score was at 1.21 points.

Kyrgyzstan’s Democracy Scores decreased to 1.64 points (from 1.68), while Kazakhstan’s dropped to 1.29 (from 1.32). Tajikistan and Turkmenistan received Scores of 1.04 points and 1 point respectively.

Belarus scored 1.11, while Russia and Azerbaijan scored 1.07 points each.

Among the highest scorers in the region, Estonia led with a score of 6, followed by Latvia and Slovenia, each with a score of 5.79. Ukraine’s democratic development was rated at 3.43, followed by Armenia at 3.07 and Georgia at 3.04.

In March, Freedom House published its annual freedom rating, with Uzbekistan scoring 12 out of a possible 100 points. All Central Asian countries were classified as “not free”.