Eurasia This Week: July 22, 2021

July 22, 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.

The Tbilisi Pride logo. Georgia has seen an uptick in anti-LGBT violence (in part perpetuated by pro-Kremlin political forces) ahead of October’s municipal elections. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Bojan Cvetanović (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Upcoming Eurasia Elections

Kazakhstan Rural Elections: July 25, 2021

Kazakhstan holds rural elections on July 25. For the first time, hundreds of villages will elect mayors directly. These follow legislative elections that took place 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

Reuters (July 23, 2021): Kazakhstan to Directly Elect Hundreds of Village Mayors for First Time

Colleen Wood, The Foreign Policy Centre (July 22, 2021): Human rights and civil liberties in Kazakhstan: A matter of efficiency?

Almaz Kumenov, Eurasianet (July 21, 2021): Kazakhstan: Activists tracked by Pegasus angered but not surprised

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

Meduza (July 22, 2021): The State Duma’s jet-setter: Team Navalny publishes new investigation into the family wealth of parliamentary speaker Vyacheslav Volodin

Reuters (July 21, 2021): Russia extends house arrest of Kremlin critic Navalny’s spokesperson

Moscow Times (July 20, 2021): Which Kremlin Critics Have Fled Russia?

Masha Gessen, The New Yorker (July 19, 2021): Lyubov Sobol’s hope for Russia: With Alexey Navalny in prison, one of his closest aides is carrying on the lonely work of the opposition.

AP (July 18, 2021): Russia rights group linked to Navalny closes amid prosecution fears: Team 29 is the latest victim of Kremlin crackdown on organisations it considers ‘undesirable’

RFE/RL (July 18, 2021): Pussy Riot Member Leaves Russia Citing ‘Persecution’

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.

Most recently, an uptick in violence against the LGBT community and journalists, perpetrated by far-right and pro-Kremlin forces, has fueled the wider debate about where Georgia is going, both culturally and geopolitically. More

Archil Gegeshidze and Mikheil Mirziashvili, Carnegie Europe (July 23, 2021): The Orthodox Church in Georgia’s Changing Society

Eric Lee, Moscow Times (July 21, 2021): It’s Time for Georgia to Choose Its Future

Tata Shoshiashvili, OC Media (July 21, 2021): Georgia’s ongoing epidemic of homophobic street violence

Institute for War and Peace Reporting (July 21, 2021): Georgia: Further Protests After Journalist Dies: Media workers demand immediate action over “green light for violence” (July 20, 2021): Reporters hold protest ahead of ruling party reveal of Tbilisi mayor candidate

David M. Herszenhorn, Politico (July 19, 2021): Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine see joint path to EU: Rebuking Russia, three presidents sign statement on EU integration.

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. Although some had hoped that President Shavkat Mirziyoyev would face a serious challenger this year, that looks increasingly unlikely as would-be challengers are either being denied ballot access or dropping out. More

AKIpress (July 23, 2021): Presidential election campaign starts in Uzbekistan

Bruce Pannier, RFE/RL (July 18, 2021): Eliminating Presidential Candidates In Central Asia

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

Madalin Necsutu, Euronews (July 23, 2021): Moldova’s new government has an old problem: Transnistria. Can it solve it? 

Washington Post Editorial Board (July 20, 2021): Reformers just won a rare victory in Russia’s backyard. Biden should help them.

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.

Pablo Gonzalez, Voice of America (July 22, 2021): In Wake of Defeat and Upheaval, Armenia Deals with its War Wounds

Ani Avetisyan, OC Media (July 20, 2021): Robert Kocharyan refuses to sit as MP in Armenia’s parliament

Reuters (July 17, 2021): Armenian court upholds June election win for acting PM’s party

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

Yuras Karmanau, AP (July 23, 2021): Belarus shuts more civil society groups in wide crackdown

Tanya Lokshina and Rachel Denber, Human Rights Watch (July 23, 2021): Belarus Authorities Launch Purge of Civic Groups

Doug Klain, Atlantic Council (July 21, 2021): Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya on Belarus’ future and her place in it

Jennifer Hansler, CNN (July 20, 2021): Belarus opposition leader says she gave sanctions list to Biden administration

Reuters (July 19, 2021): On Washington visit, Belarus opposition leader asks U.S. for more help

RFE/RL (July 19, 2021): More Belarusian Activists Sentenced To Lengthy Prison Terms As Crackdown Intensifies

Meduza (July 16, 2021): Then came the counter-revolution: Political Analyst Artyom Shraibman breaks down the latest wave of mass repressions in Belarus

Eurasia Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022

Kazakhstan Village Elections: July 25, 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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