Eurasia This Week: July 15, 2021

July 15, 2021

A weekly review of news and analysis of elections in Eurasia, usually posted on Thursdays and occasionally updated throughout the week. For a full electoral calendar and interactive map, click here.

A polling station during Moldova’s 2016 elections. Moldova held snap parliamentary elections on July 11 resulting in a landslide victory for pro-European, anti-corruption politics. Photo credit: OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Upcoming Eurasia Elections

Russia Parliamentary Elections: By September 19, 2021

Russia is due to hold parliamentary elections by September 19, 2021. Russian elections are neither free nor fair. Nonetheless, the opposition has been making some gains in recent regional elections, helped by opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s “Smart Vote,” a campaign of tactical voting, in which they developed a list of candidates the best chance of beating Vladimir Putin’s United Russia. Consequently, the Kremlin has launched a brutal crackdown on the proposition, including imprisoning Navalny. Candidates who have worked with Navalny or supported him have been banned from the upcoming election. Only one genuine opposition party – the liberal Yabloko – currently is able to field candidates. More

Moscow Times (July 15, 2021): Navalny Ally Running for Local Office Faces Court-Approved Forced Hospitalization

Vladimir Kara-Murza, Washington Post (July 15, 2021): Opinion: As a new Russian election season begins, the Kremlin’s fraudsters are working overtime

Oliver Carroll, The Independent (July 14, 2021): What do elections look like in a country with no opposition?

Euronews (July 12, 2021): Russian opposition politician quits Moscow district role over ‘pressure’ 

Georgia Local Elections: October 2021 (due)

Georgia is due to hold local elections in October 2021, and they are particularly important because – as a result of a deal to resolve the political crisis following last year’s parliamentary elections – they could spark new parliamentary elections if the ruling Georgian Dream party wins less than 43 percent of the proportional vote. The political climate is tense, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and related economic fallout. More

Giorgi Lomsadze, Eurasianet (July 16, 2021): Georgian government under fire for investigations into far-right violence

Lela Kunchulia, RFE/RL (July 14, 2021): Georgia At ‘Dangerous Crossroads’ After Anti-LGBT Violence, PM’s Response

Anna Ayers, Global Risk Insights (July 14, 2021): Georgia’s political struggles may not be over just yet

Kyrgyzstan Parliamentary Elections Take 2: Fall 2021 (expected)

Kyrgyzstan’s leader has proposed re-running the parliamentary elections that took place in October 2020. Those elections and allegations of fraud led to political turmoil, followed by a snap presidential election in January 2021 and a constitutional referendum (alongside local elections) in April 2021. The new constitution, which passed, grants the president vastly expanded powers. Its critics have dubbed it the “Khanstitution.” The political climate was tense heading into the October 2020 parliamentary elections. It subsequently exploded following said elections. More

Catherine Putz, The Diplomat (July 15, 2021): Concerns Rise as Kyrgyzstan Enacts New NGO Controls

Aigerim Turgunbaeva, Global Voices (July 15, 2021): What is the Kurultai: Kyrgyzstan’s political body based on an ancient nomadic tradition Reviving an old, unelected assembly to control the political process.

Ayzirek Imanaliyeva, Eurasianet (July 12, 2021): Kyrgyzstan: Old faces and businesspeople dominate local vote

Uzbekistan Presidential Election: October 24, 2021

Uzbekistan is holding a presidential election on October 24, 2021. Elections in Uzbekistan are neither free nor fair, and political opposition is not able to operate freely in the country. More

Catherine Putz, The Diplomat (July 12, 2021): Uzbek Singer Abandons Presidential Ambitions: Jahongir Otajonov, picked by the banned Erk party as its presidential candidate, has reportedly quit the race.

Past Eurasia Elections

Moldova Snap Parliamentary Elections: July 11, 2021

Moldova held snap parliamentary elections on July 11, which pro-Europe center-right president Maia Sandu had been trying to call for months because in Moldova’s parliamentary system, a legislative majority is necessary to execute on any policy agenda. Prior to these elections, party had a clear majority in parliament (and Sandu’s allies were outnumbered by pro-Russian parties), leading to political instability. Sandu’s allies ended up winning in a landslide.

Sandu herself trounced pro-Kremlin leftist Igor Dodon, who had been the incumbent, in the November 2020 presidential election, after losing narrowly to him in 2016. More

The Economist (July 15, 2021): An anti-corruption party triumphs in Moldova: After decades of graft, a reformer now holds all the levers of power

Marius Ghincea and Vlad Iaviță, Washington Post (July 15, 2021): Moldova’s president now has a legislative majority to push through her anti-corruption agenda

Vladimir Socor, Jamestown Foundation (July 15, 2021): Russia Abandons Moldovan Clients, Will Deal With the New Pro-Western Government

Craig Turp-Balazs, Emerging Europe (July 14, 2021): Moldova’s relationship with Romania has changed, possibly forever

Valentina Ursu, Vasile Botnaru, and Robert Coalson, RFE/RL (July 13, 2021): Moldovans Hail End To ‘Coalition Nightmare’ Following Pro-European Party’s Win, But Challenges Loom

AFP (July 11, 2021): Moldova’s snap election set to weaken Russia’s influence

Armenia Snap Parliamentary Elections: June 20, 2021

Armenia held snap parliamentary elections on June 20 in an effort to defuse a political crisis following a defeat in the recent Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Pre-election polls suggested a close contest Pashinyan acting prime minister Nikol Pashinyan and former president Robert Kocharyan; however, Pashinyan ended up winning by a significant margin.

Pashinyan became prime minister following the 2018 pro-democracy “Velvet Revolution.” However, he mostly maintained Armenia’s pro-Russia geopolitical stance, and that does not look likely to change in the near future.

Vestnik Kavkaza (July 17, 2021): Constitutional Court confirms results of parliamentary elections in Armenia

Wescott Yeaw, Foreign Brief (July 17, 2021): Armenia’s Constitutional Court to deliver decision on legitimacy of snap Parliamentary elections

JAMnews (July 17, 2021): Is the opposition being targeted in the Syunik region of Armenia?

Anita Haugen, New Europe (July 16, 2021): Is Armenia heading towards a collision with the West?

Astghik Bedevian, RFE/R: (July 15, 2021): Pro-Western Politician Tipped To Take Over Armenia’s Foreign Ministry

Kazakhstan Legislative Elections: January 10, 2021

Kazakhstan held legislative elections for January 10, 2021. The country’s elections take place in the context of an authoritarian system in which critics of the government face harassment and arrest. As such, no genuine opposition has representation in the legislature. More

Rustam Kypshakbayev, Atlantic Council (July 15, 2021): Is Kazakhstan experiencing the early stages of a democratic awakening?

Andrew Roth, The Guardian (July 11, 2021): Oliver Stone derided for film about ‘modest’ former Kazakh president

Jamilya Maricheva

Belarus Presidential Election: August 9, 2020

Belarus held a presidential election on August 9, 2020. In a vote widely deemed not free and not fair, incumbent Alexander Lukashenko declared victory. However, the opposition declared that Svetlana Tikhanovskaya had in fact won. Hundreds of thousands of Belarusians have taken to the streets in protest to demand free and fair elections, even in the face of assault and arrest by security forces. Protests continue. More

RFE/RL (July 17, 2021): Tsikhanouskaya Plans High-Level Meetings During U.S. Visit Next Week

Reuters (July 16, 2021): Belarus conducts new raids on journalists and rights activists

Human Rights Watch (July 15, 2021): Belarus: Unprecedented Raids on Human Rights Defenders

Vladimir Isachenkov, AP (July 13, 2021): Putin hosts leader of Belarus for talks on closer ties

RFE/RL (July 12, 2021): Would-Be Belarusian Presidential Candidate Babaryka Transferred To Penal Colony

Elena Debre, OCCRP (July 12, 2021): Belarus Opposition Candidate Sentenced to 14 Years in Prison

Eurasia Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022

Armenia Snap Parliamentary Elections: June 20, 2021

Moldova Snap Parliamentary Elections: July 11, 2021

Russia Parliamentary Elections: By September 19, 2021

Georgia Local Elections: October 2021 (due)

Kyrgyzstan Parliamentary Elections Take 2: Fall 2021 (expected)

Uzbekistan Presidential Election: October 24, 2021

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