Eurasia This Week: September 30, 2021

September 30, 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 11th century Svetitskhoveli Cathedral as seen from Gamsakhurdia Street in Mtskheta, the former capital of Georgia. Georgia holds crucial local elections on October 2. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Aleksey Muhranoff (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Upcoming Eurasia 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. 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

Dato Parulava and Louis Westendarp, Politico (October 1, 2021): Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili arrested on eve of election

RFE/RL (October 1, 2021): A Massive Purported State Surveillance Leak Rocks Georgia Ahead Of Key Elections

Giorgi Lomsadze, Eurasianet (October 1, 2021): Georgia’s big little election

Manana Vardiashvili, Institute for War and Peace Reporting (September 30, 2021): Georgia Heads For Crucial Elections: Vote for mayors and municipal councillors may choose the country’s political direction.

Soso Dzamukashvili, Emerging Europe (September 29, 2021): In Georgia, the stakes couldn’t be higher ahead of local elections

Sean Mueller, London School of Economics (September 27, 2021): Why Georgia’s local elections could trigger new instability in the country

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 27, 2021): Jailed Kyrgyz Ex-President Says Pondering Parliamentary Run

Institute for War and Peace Reporting  (September 27, 2021): Kyrgyzstan: Demands for Public Enquiry Over State Wiretapping

Paul Bartlett, Nikkei Asia (September 26, 2021): Big Brother-style internet controls expand in Central Asia

Past Eurasia Elections

Russia Parliamentary Elections: September 17-19, 2021

Russia held parliamentary elections September 17-19, 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 launched a brutal crackdown on the proposition, including imprisoning Navalny. Candidates who have worked with Navalny or supported him were banned from the election. Only one genuine opposition party – the liberal Yabloko – was able to field candidates. 

Moreover, international technology companies such as Google and Apple assisted the regime by removing apps associated with Navalny’s Smart Vote. More

Lexi Lonas, The Hill (September 25, 2021): Hundreds protest in Moscow claiming Russia’s election was rigged

Vladimir Kara-Murza, Washington Post (September 25, 2021): The Russian election was supposed to shore up Putin’s legitimacy. It achieved the opposite.

Andrei Pertsev, Moscow Times (September 24, 2021): Why the Kremlin Isn’t Celebrating the Duma Election Results

Meduza (September 24, 2021): Turning red: Russia held elections to 39 regional parliaments last weekend. Here’s how the results played out.

Vladimir Socor, Jamestown Foundation (September 23, 2021): Russian Elections in Ukraine’s Donbas: Annexing People Before Annexing Territory

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

Sandor Zsiros, Euronews (September 30, 2021): Moldova’s new prime minister discusses the country’s “renewed energy”

Georgi Gotev and Malte Ketelsen, Euractiv (September 29, 2021 – video): Gavrilita: Moldova voted for the European model

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

BBC (October 1, 2021): Belarus mass arrests as Lukashenko cracks down after shooting: Eighty-seven people have been arrested in Belarus for commenting on social media about a shoot-out that claimed two lives, a human rights group says.

Pawel Zerka, European Council on Foreign Relations (September 30, 2021): How half-hearted sanctions put the future of Belarus at risk

Sarah Rainsford, BBC (September 30, 2021): Maria Kolesnikova: No regrets for Belarus activist jailed for coup plot

RFE/RL (September 29, 2021): Belarusian Authorities Seek Dissolution Of Top Human Rights Group

AP (September 28, 2021): Belarus hits back at EU and announces vote on a new constitution in 2022

RFE/RL (September 28, 2021): Lukashenka Says Belarus Plans Constitutional Referendum By February 2022

Ukraine Local Election Runoffs: November 15 and 22, 2020

Ukraine held local elections on October 25, 2020. Mayoral runoffs in some cities will take place on November 15, and the rest will happen on November 22. The results delivered a blow to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as the country’s traditional pro-Europe and pro-Russia political forces won key races. More

Vitaliy Sych, Atlantic Council (September 30, 2021): Want to assess Ukraine’s progress? Look at Belarus

Eurasia Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022

Georgia Local Elections: October 2, 2021

Uzbekistan Presidential Election: October 24, 2021

Kyrgyzstan Parliamentary Elections Take 2: November 28, 2021

Belarus Constitutional Referendum: By February 2022 (proposed)

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