Eurasia This Week: August 26, 2021

August 26, 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 bus station in Bishkek. Kyrgyzstan will likely hold parliamentary elections this fall amid a climate of democratic backsliding. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Vmenkov (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Upcoming Eurasia Elections

Russia Parliamentary Elections: By September 19, 2021

Russia holds 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

Maria Snegovaya, Washington Post (August 25, 2021): Russia’s latest crackdown on dissent is much more sweeping than ever before

Meduza (August 25, 2021): Back with a vengeance After failing to meet goals in the 2019 Moscow municipal elections, Russia’s ruling establishment has ramped up efforts in 2021, but success in the State Duma is far from guaranteed

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 (August 26, 2021): ODIHR Launches Georgia Election Observation Mission

Shota Kincha, OC Media (August 26, 2021): Georgian-Belarusian security cooperation deal worries political emigres in Georgia (August 25, 2021): Georgian ombudswoman recommends postponement of municipal elections (August 23, 2021): UNM, European Georgia present additional mayoral candidates for October local elections

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 (August 26, 2021): Will Kyrgyzstan’s ‘False Information’ Law Threaten Free Speech?

RFE/RL (August 24, 2021): Kyrgyz President Signs Controversial ‘False Information’ Bill Into Law

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

Stephen McGrath and Aurel Obreja, AP (August 27, 2021): Moldova marks 30 years of independence from Soviet rule

Madalin Necsutu, Euronews (August 27, 2021): Why has it taken Moldova so long to shake off its Soviet legacy?

Victor Maxian and Amos Chapple, RFE/RL (August 26, 2021 – photo essay): Soviet Moldova, Then And Now

Madalin Necsutu, Balkan Insight (August 24, 2021): Moldova’s Govt Has ‘Unequivocal Mandate’ to Tackle Judicial Corruption

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.

Siba Jackson, Sky News (August 26, 2021): Armenia: Mass brawl erupts at parliament in Yerevan as former defence ministers branded ‘traitors’

Alex Galitsky, Foreign Policy (August 25, 2021): Peace on Azerbaijan’s Terms Won’t End the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict

Naira Bulghadarian, RFE/RL (August 23, 2021): Armenian Court Says Pro-Opposition Doctor Can Be Rearrested On Election Influence Charges

JAMnews (August 23, 2021): Armenian government accused of political persecution as another opposition MP faces arrest

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 and political defiance continue. More

AP (August 27, 2021): Belarus closes journalist organization, continuing crackdown

Meduza (August 26, 2021): Belarus refuses to open criminal investigation into police abuse during August 2020 protests

Patrick Howell O’Neill, MIT Technology Review (August 26, 2021): Hackers are trying to topple Belarus’s dictator, with help from the inside: Opposition from inside the regime of Alexander Lukashenko is helping hackers run what may be the most comprehensive cyberattack on a nation ever.

Eurasia Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022

Russia Parliamentary Elections: September 17-19, 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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