Freedom House improved Artsakh’s rating from 30 to 31 in its latest “Freedom in the World” report released March 4.

According to the report “the political opening in Armenia that began with [Nikol] Pashinyan’s long-shot rise to the premiership in 2018 had a positive effect on the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh during 2019.”

Further, “there was an increase in competition and civil society activity surrounding local elections in September, and the stage was set for further changes in the 2020 elections for Nagorno-Karabakh’s president and parliament.”

Artsakh together with Armenia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova and Ukraine is ranked as “partly free” in ex-USSR. Meantime, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, as well as Azerbaijan, Belarus, Russia and others in Central Asia are ranked as “not free.”

At the same time, Nagorno Karabakh’s rating of 31 remains below its 2017 rating of 33. Freedom House downgraded it in 2018, after incumbent president Bako Sahakyan extended his time in office by another three years.

In 2011 and 2012 Karabakh slipped into “not free” category in Freedom House surveys, before recovering to “partly free” following a competitive presidential election in July 2012.