Central Asia may no longer be Communist, but it certainly isn't free either
The Associated Press reports that the former Soviet Union is not all that democratic. Most of the AP report is pretty anodyne, so let's look at what they say about Central Asia:
Ukraine, where massive protests in 2004 ushered in a reformist Western-leaning pro-NATO government, almost immediately devolved into factional jealousies that effectively paralyzed the country. Voters threw out that regime last year in favor of a Russia-friendly president, who is under wide criticism from the West for politically motivated prosecutions and pressure on independent news media. Ukraine meanwhile has acquired international notoriety for frequent brawls in parliament, and whether the country ultimately tilts West or East remains a question.
Georgia, whose 2003 Rose Revolution led the way for the region's regime-changing mass protests, was driving firmly toward NATO and European Union membership under reformist President Mikheil Saakashvili. But the momentum petered out after Georgia's five-day war with Russia in 2008, which both the Kremlin and many Georgians blame on Saakashvili's impetuosity.
Well... okay. We should probably add that Ukraine's world-class hottie-Parliamentarian Yulia Timoshekno is currently on trial for alleged involvement in some weird money laundering issue concerning Ukraine's natural gas (there is currently a debate over the exact nature of Ukraine's gas-transaction relationship with Russia). And there is also, let us not forget, a tremendous PR effort to spin Georgia's 2008 war with Russia as one of hapless Georgia victimized by evil, rampaging Russia (and oh yeah, and Georgia's continued harassment of journalists).
There are some other interesting tidbits in there, like how the riots last year in Kyrgyzstan say... something about the country's prospects for "democracy" (however defined, and the author doesn't really say how or why). They declare Turkmenistan has "thrown off much of the personality cult engendered by the late eccentric leader Saparmurat Niyazov," which is just not correct. And then the piece ends with, "well, the former Soviet Union is a varied, heterogeneous place." Thanks for that, AP!