Eurasia This Week: November 11, 2021

November 11, 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.

Statue of Shota Rustaveli (c. 1160-c.1220), Georgia’s national poet, in his home city of Rustavi. Georgians have been protesting local election results and the imprisonment of former president Mikheil Saakashvili. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Zviad Avaliani

Upcoming Eurasia Elections

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 (November 10, 2021): Kyrgyz University Teachers, Students Protest Rector’s Removal Over Election Campaign

Bermet Talant, Eurasianet (November 10, 2021): Kyrgyzstan: President’s allies dominate parliamentary race: The four parties friendliest to President Sadyr Japarov have spent more than all 17 other parties combined.

Bruce Pannier, RFE/RL (November 5, 2021): Kyrgyzstan’s Plucky Election Commission Tries To Disqualify A Political Heavyweight

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

RFE/RL (November 10, 2021): Dozens Of Georgian Demonstrators Arrested As Saakashvili Goes On Trial

JAMnews (November 8, 2021): Saakashvili’s release and early elections: perpetual mass protest announced in Tbilisi

Makhare Atchaidze and The Caucasus Datablog, OC Media (November 8, 2021): What issues do Georgians think about when voting?

Dato Parulava and Lukas Kotkamp, Politico (November 6, 2021): Georgia’s political protests explained

Amy Mackinnon, Foreign Policy (November 5, 2021): How Do You Solve a Problem Like Misha? Former President Mikheil Saakashvili’s hunger strike is a test case for Georgia’s trembling democracy.

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 did not happen. Instead, would-be challengers were either denied ballot access or dropped outMore

Catherine Putz, The Diplomat (November 9, 2021): The Old Ways Are Still Alive in New Uzbekistan: In entering a new term by suggesting constitutional reform, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev is following in the path of his dictatorial predecessor.

Soso Dzamukashvili, Emerging Europe (November 8, 2021): ‘No contest’ election over, it’s time for Uzbekistan to speed up reform

Eurasianet (November 5, 2021): Uzbekistan: Will transparency trump cronyism as Tashkent woos investors?

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

Nicole Gaouette, Natasha Bertrand, Kylie Atwood and Jim Sciutto, CNN (November 10, 2021): Blinken says US is concerned Russia may be ‘attempting to rehash’ 2014 invasion of Ukraine

Arkady Ostrovsky, The Economist (November 8, 2021): Vladimir Putin will renew his attacks on elections and the internet

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

Madalin Necsutu, Balkan Insight (November 11, 2021): Moldova President Was Wiretapped by Former Regime, Papers Show

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

Jake Rudnitsky and Aliaksandr Kudrytski, Bloomberg (November 9, 2021): Why Turmoil in Belarus Is Spilling Over Its Borders

Belsat (November 4, 2021): Interpol will not search for Tsikhanouskaya

Geopolitical Competition

Lindsey Kennedy and Paul Nathan Southern, Foreign Policy (November 7, 2021): Central Asia Is Turning Back to Moscow: With the United States off the scene, Russia is more appealing than China.

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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