Eurasia This Week: August 12, 2021

August 12, 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 Cathedral of St. Sophia in Veliky Novgorod, Russia. It is the oldest church building in Russia, consecrated in 1050. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Dio-fine-art (CC BY-SA 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

RFE/RL (August 12, 2021): Peaceful Protests ‘Become Almost Impossible’ In Russia, Report Says

Ben Noble, Moscow Times (August 12, 2021): Can ‘Team Putin’ Rebrand Save United Russia?

Jeff Hawn and Sim Tack, Foreign Policy (August 10, 2021): Russia’s Ruling Party Wants a Big Win in Upcoming Elections: United Russia has seriously limited the opposition but is losing popularity itself.

Tom Balmforth and Anton Zverev, Reuters (August 10, 2021): Russia opens new criminal case against Navalny allies

DW (August 8, 2021): Navalny lawyer Lyubov Sobol leaves Russia — reports

Thomas Nilsen, Barents Observer (August 6, 2021): OSCE will not send observers to monitor Russian Duma Elections

Georgia Local Elections: October 2, 2021

Georgia has scheduled local elections for October 2, 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, raising concerns about Georgia’s political stability. 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

Galina Gotua, Caucasian Knot (August 12, 2021): Prosecutor’s Office refuses to recognize organizers of gay pride in Tbilisi as victims (August 11, 2021): Three opposition parties to nominate joint majoritarian candidates in Tbilisi for upcoming local elections

Ruby Lott-Lavigna, Vice (August 10, 2021): ‘It Needs To Stop’: LGBTQ People in Georgia Under Siege From the Far-Right

Manon Mokuchava, Transitions Online (August 6, 2021): Last Address: Tbilisi

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 outMore

RFE/RL (August 11, 2021): Uzbek Lawmakers Move To Toughen Punishment For Resisting Police

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

RFE/RL (August 11, 2021): Kyrgyz President Urged To Reject Controversial ‘False Information’ Bill

Committee to Protect Journalists (August 10, 2021): Kyrgyzstan parliament approves ‘false information’ bill

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

Interfax-Ukraine (August 12, 2021): Sandu announces Moldova’s readiness to resume Transdniestrian conflict settlement

Madalin Necsutu, Balkan Insight (August 11, 2021): Moldova’s New Govt Warns Justice System: Change is Coming

Madalin Necsutu, Institute for War and Peace Reporting (August 11, 2021): Moldova: What Next for Pro-Russian Forces? Political forces regroup after suffering punishing defeat in snap parliamentary elections.  

Stephen McGrath, AP (August 6, 2021): Moldova’s parliament approves pro-EU government

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 (August 11, 2021): ‘I’m Here For My Country’: Belarusian Protester Talks About Iconic Photo

Chantal Da Silva and Abigail Williams, NBC News (August 11, 2021): Belarus revokes consent for U.S. ambassador, demands embassy staff cuts in row over sanctions

KK Ottesen, Washington Post (August 10, 2021): Belarusian political dissidents on spreading their message of freedom: ‘We never know when our life will end’

Jacob Knutson, Axios (August 9, 2021): Belarus faces flood of new sanctions on anniversary of rigged election

Jen Kirby, Vox (August 7, 2021): The long reach of Belarus’s repression: Why an Olympic athlete’s complaint became an act of protest.

Sarah Rainsford, BBC (August 7, 2021): Belarus crackdown fails to crush opposition spirit

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN (August 6, 2021): Belarusian dissidents fear the regime will put them into detention camps. It may have already built one

Amy Mackinnon, Foreign Policy (August 6, 2021): Belarus’s Unlikely New Leader: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya didn’t set out to challenge a brutal dictatorship.

Eurasia Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022

Russia Parliamentary Elections: By September 19, 2021

Georgia Local Elections: October 2, 2021

Kyrgyzstan Parliamentary Elections Take 2: Fall 2021 (expected)

Uzbekistan Presidential Election: October 24, 2021

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