January 4, 2024

A weekly review of news and analysis of elections in Eurasia, usually posted on Thursdays and occasionally updated throughout the week.

The Kremlin in winter. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Vyacheslav Argenberg (CC BY 4.0)


Politics in the Eurasia region are taking place in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This week, we’re watching the fallout from Russia’s December 29 attack on civilians in Kyiv, which killed more than 40 people and injured 150. 

There are several major elections on deck in Eurasia this year:

Azerbaijan will hold a snap presidential election on February 7. President Ilham Aliyev hopes to surf a wave of popularity following Azerbaijan’s victory over arch-nemesis Armenia in the breakaway territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan is not a free country and Aliyev, who came to power in 2003, has crushed most dissent, so he is likely to prevail on February 7. Azerbaijan’s geopolitical importance mostly is related to its oil production.

Belarus holds parliamentary elections on February 25. Again, not a free country. Belarus has never held free or fair elections. Alexander Lukashenko has been president since 1994, although during the last presidential election, in 2020, the opposition gave him a run for his money, with a charismatic candidate (Svetlana Tikhanovskaya) and hundreds of thousands of protesters in the streets. But the regime has responded with a brutal crackdown, jailing or exiling even more political opponents, journalists, and civil society activists. As such, the parliamentary elections will be a sham.

Russia, yet another authoritarian regime, goes to the polls on March 17 in what President Vladimir Putin is setting up to be a coronation. Since the invasion of Ukraine, Putin ramped up his crackdown on dissent.

Ukraine is due to hold a presidential election this spring as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s term ends in March 2024, but the country is under martial law due to Russia’s invasion. As a result, the election has been delayed indefinitely. Similarly, parliamentary elections that were due in October are currently on ice. Some have alleged that Zelenskyy has developed authoritarian tendencies and as such have criticized the decision to delay elections.

Georgia is due to hold parliamentary elections in October. Since the country transitioned to a parliamentary system, these elections will determine who runs the government. Recently, shadowy, Kremliny billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili has announced that he will return to official politics (he stepped down from prime minister in 2013 but is widely believed to have been calling the shots from behind the scenes since then). The pro-west opposition remains fragmented, and former president Mikheil Saakashvili is in prison. Georgia hopes to join the European Union, but whether or not that happens will depend on whether democracy improves.

Moldova is due for a presidential election in November. Incumbent Maia Sandu is eligible to run for another term. In 2020, she defeated pro-Moscow socialist incumbent Igor Dodon, but since then, Russia has ramped up its harassment of the country. Sandu îs center-right and pro-west.

And with that, here are the key news headlines:

Upcoming Eurasia Elections

Azerbaijan Snap Presidential Election: February 7, 2024

Azernews (December 31, 2023): CEC: Number of candidates for presidential elections in Azerbaijan reaches 17 (December 29, 2023): OSCE/ODIHR opens election observation mission for presidential election in Azerbaijan

RFE/RL (December 29, 2023): Preliminary Hearings Launched In Case Against Azerbaijani Activist Haciyev

Belarus Parliamentary: February 25, 2024

Maxim Adams, Voice of America (December 29, 2023 – video): Belarusian Authorities Targeting 2020 Election Observers

RFE/RL (December 27, 2023): Imprisoned Belarusian Opposition Politician Reportedly Placed In Harsher Conditions

Russia Presidential Election: March 17, 2024

Piotr Sauer, The Guardian (January 3, 2024): Vladimir Putin will use election to show war-weary Russia he’s still calling the shots

Allison Meakem, Foreign Policy (January 2, 2024): Putin’s Russia Is Barely Pretending Its Elections Are Real

NPR (January 1, 2024): As Russia-Ukraine war nears 2-year mark, Putin says no peace until goals are achieved

Reuters (December 31, 2023): Putin, in New Year Address, Makes Only Passing Reference to Ukraine

Semafor (December 29, 2023): Half of Russians hope the war will end in 2024, poll shows

Reuters (December 29, 2023): Russian court sentences Navalny ally in Siberia to 9.5 years in prison

Isabel van Brugen, Newsweek (December 28, 2023): Putin’s Approval Ratings as 2024 Election Year Begins

RFE/RL (December 27, 2023): Russian Supreme Court Confirms Anti-War Journalist Cannot Run For President

Georgia Parliamentary Elections: October 2024 (due)

John Horan, Eurasianet (December 31, 2023): Georgia’s billionaire boss re-enters politics … again

Felix Light, Reuters (December 30, 2023): Georgian billionaire ex-PM Ivanishvili returns to politics before election

Eurasia Elections Coming Up in 2024

Azerbaijan Snap Presidential Election: February 7, 2024

Belarus Parliamentary: February 25, 2024

Russia Presidential Election: March 17, 2024

Ukraine Presidential Election: Due in Spring 2024 (postponed indefinitely)

Georgia Parliamentary Elections: October 2024 (due)

Moldova Presidential Election: November 2024 (due)

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