Eurasia This Week: September 9, 2021

September 9, 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 old Tbilisi neighborhood of Abanotubani, known for sulfur baths. Georgia holds key local elections in October amid political tension and an erosion of democratic norms. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Mostafameraji (CC BY-SA 4.0)

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

Gijs Willem Freriks, New Eastern Europe (September 9, 2021): Russian Duma elections. How promising is the smart voting strategy this time?

RFE/RL (September 7, 2021): In Another Blow, Navalny’s ‘Smart Voting’ Project In Russia Is Being Cloned

Oliver Carroll, The Independent (September 7, 2021): Russian election: Isolated and demoralised, Team Navalny has a last roll of the dice

David J. Kramer, Politico (September 4, 2021): Opinion | What I Wish the U.S. Had Done About Putin Years Ago — And What Biden Should Do Now

Al Jazeera (September 2, 2021): Russia warns Google, Apple over Kremlin critic Navalny’s app

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 9, 2021): NDI calls Georgia’s municipal elections ‘an opportunity,’ offers recommendations

Thomas de Waal, Carnegie Europe (September 9, 2021): Georgian Democracy Is Dying By a Thousand Cuts

Vlad Olteanu, Brussels Times (September 7, 2021): A tale of two cities: Georgia’s way to the EU or far from it

JAMnews (September 7, 2021): Mikheil Saakashvili: I am not afraid of arrest, I will return to Georgia for the upcoming elections

Dustin Gilbreath and The Caucasus Datablog, OC Media (September 7, 2021): Datablog | With local elections coming, what matters to the public?

Shota Kincha, OC Media (September 2, 2021): Who’s who in the Tbilisi Mayoral election

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 (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

RFE/RL (September 8, 2021): Jailed Kyrgyz Opposition Party Leader Faces Additional Charges He Calls Fake

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.

Past Eurasia Elections

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

Eliza Mackintosh and Katharina Krebs, CNN (September 6, 2021): Belarus opposition figure and protest leader sentenced to 11 years in jail

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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