Eurasia This Week: October 21, 2021

October 21, 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 traditional teahouse in Kokand, Uzbekistan, a Silk Road hub. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Albert Herring (CC BY 2.0)

Upcoming Eurasia Elections

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

Paul Bartlett, Nikkei Asia (October 22, 2021): Uzbekistan election spotlights economic reforms, static politics

Eurasianet (October 21, 2021): New Uzbekistan holds old-style election: Some voters feel manipulated by being asked to play along in the choice-free election.

Catherine Putz, The Diplomat (October 19, 2021): Quiet Presidential Campaign Nearly Over in Uzbekistan

Georgia Local Election Runoffs: October 30, 2021

Georgia held local elections on October 2, 2021 in a tense political climate, exacerbated by the arrest of former president Mikheil Saakashvili on the eve of the vote. Runoffs will take place on October 30, including for the important role of mayor of Tbilisi, which the ruling Georgian Dream party failed to win in the first round.

A recent 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

JAMnews (October 19, 2021): Georgian opposition creates multi-party shadow cabinet ahead of second round of elections

David M. Herszenhorn, Politico (October 18, 2021): Dozens of officials call for release of former Georgian leader Mikheil Saakashvili: An open letter to top EU leaders decries the ‘politically motivated’ jailing of Georgia’s ex-president.

AP (October 14, 2021): Thousands protest for Georgian ex-president’s release

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 (October 19, 2021): Kyrgyzstan’s Supreme Court Reinstates Former President Atambaev’s Prison Sentence

Paul Bartlett, Nikkei Asia (October 15, 2021): Kyrgyzstan faces ‘hard winter’ as Japarov marks 1 year at helm: President’s power grows while analysts warn on freedom and living costs

Armenia Partial Local Elections: November 14 and December 5, 2021 (following first set of local elections on October 17)

Armenia is holding a series of partial local elections this fall. These follow the snap parliamentary elections on June 20, which were held 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. Political tensions remain.

Gayane Sargsyan, Institute for War and Peace Reporting (October 19, 2021): Armenian Opposition Protests Electoral Changes

Ani Mejlumyan, Eurasianet (October 18, 2021): Armenian ruling party suffers election setback: Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s Civil Contract party lost local elections in some of the country’s key cities.

Ani Avetisyan, OC Media (October 18, 2021): Armenia’s ruling party faces defeat in limited municipal elections

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 opposition, 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

AFP (October 21, 2021): Navalny Aide Placed on Russia’s Wanted List

AFP (October 20, 2021): Kremlin critic Navalny wins EU’s Sakharov rights award

Andrew E. Kramer, New York Times (October 18, 2021): Russia Breaks Diplomatic Ties With NATO Moscow’s decision to end its diplomatic mission to the alliance will end a long, post-Cold War experiment in building trust between militaries.

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

Gwendolyn Sasse, Carnegie Europe (October 21, 2021): Continuity and Change in Belarusian Societal Attitudes

AFP (October 17, 2021): French Envoy Leaves Belarus at Minsk’s Demand: Embassy

Ilya Yablokov, openDemocracy (October 16, 2021): Belarus’ most famous media outlet wants its title back – and its people freed

RFE/RL (October 15, 2021): Belarus Slaps ‘Extremist’ Label On Opposition Leader’s Telegram Channel

Eurasia Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022

Uzbekistan Presidential Election: October 24, 2021

Georgia Local Election Runoffs: October 30, 2021

Armenia Partial Local Elections: November 14 and December 5, 2021

Kyrgyzstan Parliamentary Elections Take 2: November 28, 2021

Belarus Constitutional Referendum: By February 2022 (proposed)

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