January 6, 2022
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 National Opera and Ballet Theatre in Minsk, Belarus. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Gruszecki (public domain)
Belarus Constitutional Referendum: February 2022 (proposed)
Belarus’s dictator, Alexander Lukashenko, has announced plans to hold a constitutional referendum in February 2022 as a way of extending his time in power (he has been president since 1994 – the first and only president of post-Soviet Belarus). Belarus’s elections and political processes are neither free nor fair.
The country las held a presidential election on August 9, 2020. In a vote widely deemed not free and not fair, 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
Felix Krawatzek and Gwendolyn Sasse (January 6, 2022): The E.U. continues to sanction Belarus. Some Belarusians approve.
RFE/RL (December 30, 2021): Russia, Belarus Announce Plans For More Joint Military Drills
Meduza (December 29, 2021): To 2035 and beyond: Belarus unveils draft constitutional amendments, plans referendum for February 2022
Euronews/AP (December 28, 2021): Belarus unveils constitutional changes to extend Lukashenko’s rule
Sergei Kuznetsov, Politico (December 22, 2021): Lukashenko has a new scheme to hang on to power in Belarus: He’s planning a referendum to stay in control; the opposition vows to ‘overthrow’ that idea.
DW (December 17, 2021): Charlemagne Prize: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya among three winners from Belarus
Ukraine Parliamentary Elections: By October 2023 and Presidential Election: By March 2024
Ukraine holds parliamentary elections in 2023 and a presidential election in 2024. In the last presidential vote, in 2019, Actor and comedian Zelensky beat incumbent Petro Poroshenko running on an anti-establishment platform. However, since then, the country’s traditional pro-Europe and pro-Moscow political forces have regained ground.
Russia’s military aggression, which began in 2014, continues, and the threat of further invasion looms large.
Lee Reaney, Kyiv Post (January 5, 2022): Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: Ukrainian Election Reform in 2022
Kori Schake, The Atlantic (December 29, 2021): Russia’s Aggression Against Ukraine Is Backfiring: Putin’s military moves are rallying Ukrainians and unifying NATO.
Luke Harding and Andrew Roth, The Guardian (December 20, 2021): Standing up to Putin: how Russian threat has toughened up Ukraine’s Zelenskiy: Actor turned president has undergone profound political transformation in the face of Russian aggression
Moldova, De Facto Presidential Election in Transnistria: December 12, 2021
Russia-backed breakaway authorities in Moldova’s Transnistria region held a so-called presidential election on December 12, 2021. Current leader Vadim Krasnoselsky won the contest. Transnistria declared independence in 1990 and Moldova subsequently lost control of the region, and there was a war in 1992.
Russia instigated and continues to perpetuate a frozen conflict in Transnistria, where 1,400 Russian troops are stationed – an obstacle to Moldova’s integration into Euro-Atlantic structures. Additionally, Transnistria’s rampant organized crime and corruption threaten Moldova’s stability. Russia also stokes separatism in Gagauzia, a Turkic-speaking region of Moldova.
Russia has broadly stepped up its harassment of Moldova following the election of pro-Europe Maia Sandu to the presidency in 2020 and the victory of pro-Europe political parties in the July 2021 parliamentary elections. Moldova next holds local elections in October 2023, presidential elections in 2024, and parliamentary elections in 2025.
RFE/RL (December 18, 2021): Moldova Calls Russian Envoy’s Presence At Transdniester Inauguration ‘Unfriendly Action’
Kyrgyzstan Parliamentary Elections Take 2: November 28, 2021
Kyrgyzstan held 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
Aigerim Turgunbaeva, Eurasianet (December 22, 2021): Kyrgyzstan: China-born MP’s seat in the balance amid scandal, confusion: Orgalcha’s company has backed the president, leading some to suspect he is bending the rules to favor her.
Catherine Putz, The Diplomat (December 21, 2021): Aijan Sharshenova on What’s Next for Kyrgyz Politics: What’s next for Kyrgyz politics now that Sadyr Japarov has the government he wanted?
RFE/RL (December 17, 2021): Time’s Up: Kyrgyzstan’s Supreme Court Rejects Monitor’s Electoral Fraud Complaint
Georgia Local Elections: October 2 and 30, 2021
Georgia held local elections on October 2 and 30, 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 (December 28, 2021): Georgian Parliament Plans Vote To Eliminate Human Rights Watchdog
Paige Aarhus, World Politics Review (December 21, 2021): Saakashvili’s Grand Return to Georgia May Have Backfired
AFP (December 21, 2021): Georgians vow mass hunger-strike after reports ex-leader ‘tortured’
Kazakhstan Legislative Elections: January 10, 2021
Kazakhstan held legislative elections for January 10, 2021. The country’s elections take place in the context of an authoritarian system in which critics of the government face harassment and arrest. As such, no genuine opposition has representation in the legislature.
A series of protests that began in January 2022 is currently rocking the country. Russia has sent personnel to intervene. More
MacKenzie Sigalos, CNBC (January 6, 2022): Kazakhstan’s deadly protests hit bitcoin, as the world’s second-biggest mining hub shuts down
Shaun Walker, The Guardian (January 7, 2022): Putin taking a risk in Kazakhstan and may hope for reward
Reuters (January 4, 2022): Public buildings stormed as Kazakhstan government’s resignation fails to quell protests: In a rare show of dissent, protests reached the authoritarian country’s biggest city, Almaty, after officials lifted price caps on liquefied petroleum gas
Valerie Hopkins, New York Times (January 4, 2022): Kazakhstan Declares State of Emergency as Protests Over Fuel Prices Spread
Belarus Constitutional Referendum: By February 2022 (proposed)
Russia Regional Elections (some regions): September 2022 (due)
Turkmenistan Parliamentary and Local Elections: March 2023 (due)
Moldova Local Elections: October 2023 (due)
Ukraine Parliamentary Elections: By October 29, 2023 (due)
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