Eurasia This Week: September 2, 2021

September 2, 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 market in Astrakhan Oblast, Russia. Photo credit: Flickr/Sergei F (CC BY 2.0)

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

Robert Coalson, RFE/RL (September 3, 2021): Crying Foul: Leaked Audio Suggests United Russia Readying Election Fraud

Craig Timberg, Robyn Dixon, and Reed Albergotti, Washington Post (September 2, 2021): Russia’s Internet censor demands Google, Apple remove an opposition app from their stores

Tom Balmforth, Reuters (September 1, 2021): In Russia’s Arctic, Navalny activist’s election bid is crushed

Vladimir Kara-Murza, Washington Post (August 30, 2021): Opinion: The Kremlin’s old methods of rigging elections aren’t working like they used to

Anton Troianovski, New York Times (August 30, 2021): Exile or Jail: The Grim Choice Facing Russian Opposition Leaders: Experts say the current exodus of journalists and dissidents is the biggest wave of political emigration in the country’s post-Soviet history.

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. Georgian Dream has re-iterated that it will not hold snap elections in 2022 even if it loses the local elections. 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 (September 2, 2021): President Zurabishvili says ‘unclear’ why gov’t refused to take EU loan

Dato Parulava, OC Media (September 2, 2021): Analysis | Brokered by Charles Michel, broken by Georgian Dream (September 2, 2021): GD Thwarts Euro-Atlantic Path, Opposition Tells EU, NATO

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 abl

e 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 (September 2, 2021): Not To Be Left Out, Uzbek Lawmakers Pitch ‘Head Of Nation’ Title For Mirziyoev

Kyrgyzstan Parliamentary Elections Take 2: November 28, 2021

Kyrgyzstan will hold parliamentary elections on November 28, 2021 – a re-run of 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 (September 2, 2021): Kyrgyzstan Wiretapped Activists, Lawyers, MPs: The Interior Ministry justified the wiretaps as part of investigations into the October 2020 unrest

Reporters Without Borders (August 30, 2021): Kyrgyzstan: Recently-adopted ‘false information’ law threatens free speech

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

Cristian Gherasim, EU Reporter (September 3, 2021): Moldovans see Russia as its biggest threat and EU integration as a national objective

Transitions Online (September 1, 2021): Transnistrian election fraud ‘a slap in the face of Moldovan democracy’

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

Yauhenia Stepus, Institute for War and Peace Reporting (September 2, 2021): Torture Continues in Belarus: Even small acts of defiance can have serious consequences.

Oliver Carroll, The Independent (August 31, 2021): Belarusian prosecutors order harsh 12-year sentence for opposition leader Kolesnikova

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: November 28, 2021

Uzbekistan Presidential Election: October 24, 2021

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