Russia’s Economy Still ‘Mostly Unfree’

MOSCOW, January 10 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s economy is among the least free in the world, according to an index published on Thursday.

Russia took 139th position out of 177 countries on the 2013 Index of Economic Freedom, published by the Heritage Foundation think tank and the Wall Street Journal.

The showing represented a slight improvement from 2012 for Russia, when it was ranked 144th. However, it failed to move from the “Mostly Unfree” category, which it shared with 58 other countries, including China (136th), Tajikistan (131st) and Senegal (116th).

Russia’s neighbors in the index were Guinea-Bissau (138th) and Vietnam (140th).

The rankings were based on 10 factors, ranging from freedom in trade and investment to corruption.

Russia saw “sometimes significant improvements in six of the 10 economic freedoms largely offset by notable declines in labor freedom and financial freedom,” the report read.

“Despite relatively high economic growth, achieved mostly through sales of oil and gas, the foundations for long-term economic development remain fragile without an efficiently functioning legal framework,” the report also said.

“Corruption, endemic throughout the economy, is becoming ever more debilitating. The state maintains an extensive presence in many sectors through state-owned enterprises. Large state-owned institutions have increased their domination of the financial sector, outweighing domestic private and foreign banks,” it also noted.

Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand took the first four places, unchanged from 2012. The United States took 10th position.

Of the former Soviet republics, Estonia was rated highest at 13th and rated “Mostly Free.” Georgia and Lithuania were also in the same category, ranked 21st and 22nd, respectively.

Turkmenistan – in 169th place – was the lowest ranked of all former Soviet countries. Two others, Uzbekistan and Ukraine, were slightly better at 162nd and 161st, respectively.

Zimbabwe, Cuba and North Korea propped up the index.


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