Eurasia This Week: July 29, 2021

July 29, 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.

Nura District in rural Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan held village elections on July 25, although the country remains an autocracy rated Not Free by Freedom House. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Маргарита москалюк (CC BY 3.0)

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

Robert Coalson and Olga Beshlei, RFE/RL (July 30, 2021): Increasingly, Russian Activists Find Themselves Sentenced To Compulsory Medical Treatment

Meduza (July 29, 2021): Siberian shaman Alexander Gabyshev was sent for compulsory medical treatment. Could this happen to other opposition figures in Russia?

Ann M. Simmons, Wall Street Journal (July 28, 2021): After Navalny, Challenging Russia’s Putin Is Getting Even Harder

Oliver Carroll, The Independent (July 26, 2021): Anti-Putin candidate on hunger strike after being ‘deliberately imprisoned in hospital’

AFP (July 26, 2021): Russia blocks 49 Navalny-linked websites: aide

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. However, the ruling Georgian Dream scrapped the agreement in July. 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

Catherine Feore, EU Reporter (July 29, 2021): Georgian Dream turns to nightmare

Giorgi Lomsadze, Eurasianet (July 28, 2021): Georgian ruling party walks out on critical political agreement: The deal, brokered by the European Union, was meant to keep the political crisis in the key Western ally from reaching a fatal stage. Now the political prospects for the country are uncertain. (July 28, 2021): Georgian Dream ‘Rejected’ Euro-Atlantic Course, Civil Society Organizations Say

JAMnews (July 25, 2021): Georgian opposition nominates two coalition candidates in Tbilisi for municipal elections (July 25, 2021): NGOs condemn homophobic posters against opposition, media in Tbilisi

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

Bermet Talant, Eurasianet (July 29, 2021): Kyrgyz parliament sneaks through “fake news” law with president’s blessing

Jackie Abramian, Forbes (July 29, 2021): Human Rights Defender Tolekan Ismailova Stands Against Kyrgyzstan’s Patriarchal System

AKI Press (July 28, 2021): Kyrgyzstan may have parliamentary elections in late November

RFE/RL (July 27, 2021): Arrested Kyrgyz Opposition Party Leader Moldokmatov Starts Hunger Strike

Catherine Putz, The Diplomat (July 27, 2021): Kyrgyz Politician Arrested for Involvement in October Unrest Begins Hunger Strike

Past Eurasia Elections

Kazakhstan Rural Elections: July 25, 2021

Kazakhstan held 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

Colin Stevens, EU Reporter (July 27, 2021): Voters go to rural polls for first time in Kazakhstan

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

RFE/RL (July 30, 2021): Moldovan President Nominates Ex-Finance Minister As Prime Minister

Madalin Necsutu, Balkan Insight (July 29, 2021): Moldova’s Pro-European Victors Face Huge Challenge in Delivering Reforms

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.

Denis Cenusa, New Eastern Europe (July 26, 2021): Armenia and Moldova after snap elections: fewer oligarchs, more reforms?

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

Melinda Haring, The National Interest (July 30, 2021): What Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s U.S. Visit Means for Belarus

Elena Barysheva, DW (July 30, 2021): How Russian money keeps Belarus afloat

Laura King, Los Angeles Times (July 28, 2021): Belarus opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya says democracy will prevail

Brian Whitmore, Atlantic Council (July 28, 2021): Concerns mount over Russia-Belarus military exercises

David L. Stern and Robyn Dixon, Washington Post (July 24, 2021): Belarus once cultivated high-tech talent. Now those people are fleeing political crackdowns.

Eurasia Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022

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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