On August 26th, Freedom House sent a letter to President Biden with recommendations for his meeting with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine. Today, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“We applaud the Biden administration for its continued support of Ukraine’s efforts strengthen its democracy, and we urge President Biden to focus today’s meeting with President Zelenskyy on two key challenges: countering Russian disinformation campaigns using a rights-based approach and protecting freedom of expression in Ukraine,” said Michael J. Abramowitz, president of Freedom House. “While we understand the security challenges facing Ukraine, it is imperative that President Biden not let these issues dominate the agenda at the expense of human rights and democracy support. Any effective response to Russia’s occupation of Donbas or its malign disinformation campaign must be rooted in upholding and strengthening democratic institutions. Military support alone cannot hold against these national security threats. Only a strong, democratic Ukraine can be a sustainable and legitimate counter to Russia’s aggression.
Freedom House urges President Biden and his administration to emphasize to President Zelenskyy the need to fight disinformation using a rights-based approach that protects rather than undermines the freedom of expression. That way, Ukraine will become more resilient in the fight against disinformation, and its strong democratic response to it can be the firsthand counter to Russian disinformation—a step that protects not only Ukrainian security but American security. Additionally, using this year’s Democracy Summit and its key theme of promoting respect for human rights as a springboard, we urge President Biden to ask President Zelenskyy to take a firm public stand in condemning hate and violence targeting vulnerable groups.
Freedom House has documented a 15-year decline in global political rights and civil liberties around the world. At this turning point with democracies around the globe under siege, the United States has a real chance to bolster democracy in Europe and beyond with its support of Ukraine. With its vibrant civil society and increasingly public demand for democratic reform, Ukraine is in a unique position to demonstrate to the world the impact of democracy-building on the security and the well-being of its citizens.”