Eurasia This Week: November 4, 2021

November 4, 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.

Gapar Aitiev Street in Osh, Kyrgyzstan. Photo credit: Wikimedia/A. Savin (Free Art License)

Upcoming Eurasia Elections

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.

Robert M Cutler, Geopolitical Monitor (November 2, 2021): A Geopolitical Reshuffle in the South Caucasus

Gayane Sargsyan, Transitions Online (October 29, 2021): Quotas Boost Women’s Participation in Armenian Local Politics

Ayla Jean Yackley, Financial Times (October 26, 2021): Turkey reaches out to foe Armenia in drive for Caucasus influence: Erdogan tests waters with Yerevan a year on from Nagorno-Karabakh war with Azerbaijan

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

Ankit Panda and Catherine Putz, The Diplomat (November 4, 2021 – podcast): Continuity and Flux in Central Asia: Elections in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan

RFE/RL (November 3, 2021): Kyrgyz Court Rejects Release Request For Jailed Parliamentary Candidate Jeenbekov

Paul Iddon, Forbes (November 1, 2021): Why Kyrgyzstan Is Procuring Turkish And Russian Drones For Its Tiny Air Force

Catherine Putz, The Diplomat (October 29, 2021): Which Politicians Do Kyrgyz Trust? Addressing the problems Kyrgyz citizens name as their biggest concerns is arguably the only way to sustain trust.

RFE/RL (October 23, 2021): Kyrgyz President Rejects Idea Of New U.S. Base In Kyrgyzstan

Past Eurasia Elections

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 upon his return to the country 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. Ultimately, Georgian Dream did win the second round amid criticism from the opposition.

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

Reuters (October 31, 2021): Georgian ruling party wins mayoral elections, opposition cries foul

RFE/RL (October 30, 2021): Georgia Holds Local Elections Runoff Vote With Ex-Leader On Hunger Strike

Giorgi Lomsadze, Eurasianet (October 22, 2021): Clean elections remain elusive in Georgia: The absence of a clean, broadly trusted electoral process leaves room for ambiguity, auguring continued disputes over the government’s legitimacy.

Uzbekistan Presidential Election: October 24, 2021

Uzbekistan held 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

Vladimir Afansiev, Upstream (October 25, 2021): Uzbekistan re-elects Mirziyoyev to top post: Foreign investors and international oil majors are expected to see more business opportunities in the country that prioritise economic reforms

Anthony Halpin, Bloomberg (October 25, 2021): Putin Hails Uzbek Leader’s Election Win Before Results Come Out

Bruce Pannier, RFE/RL (October 22, 2021): Uzbek President’s New Promises Ring Hollow In His Bid For A Second Term

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

The Economist (October 30, 2021): Russia’s once-tame Communist Party is becoming an opposition force: The Kremlin and the party’s own leader are worried

Fred Weir, Christian Science Monitor (October 26, 2021): Communists face rare crackdown in Russia, upending old balance

Editorial Board, Washington Post (October 22, 2021): Opinion: Do not forget these courageous fighters in Russia

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, no 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

Isabelle Khurshudyan, Washington Post (October 30, 2021): How Russia pushed Moldova’s pro-Western government to the brink of a gas crisis

Henry Foy, Financial Times (October 29, 2021): Moldova strikes deal with Gazprom to end gas supply squeeze: Brussels was asked for financial help by pro-EU government after Russian company cut back shipments

Madalin Necsutu, Balkan Insight (October 28, 2021): Russia’s Gas Blackmail Leaves Moldova Hunting For Alternatives

Reuters (October 27, 2021): Moldova gets $70 mln from EU to help with energy crisis

Regional Analysis

Kenneth Yalowitz and William Courtney, The National Interest (October 23, 2021): Russia’s Neighbors Have More Leverage Than They Think

Eurasia Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022

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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