January 20, 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.
A government building in Mogilev, in eastern Belarus. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Alexander Lipilin (CC BY-SA 2.5)
Upcoming Eurasia Elections
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.
In addition, Russia has been moving troops to Belarus in preparation for a possible invasion of Ukraine. More
Yuras Karmanau, AP (January 20, 2022): Belarus calls referendum that could strengthen Lukashenko
AP (January 20, 2022): U.S. charges Belarus officials with air piracy in reporter’s arrest
AFP (January 19, 2022): US fears arrival of Russian troops could lead to nuclear weapons in Belarus
Andrew Roth, The Guardian (January 17, 2022): Russia moves troops to Belarus for joint exercises near Ukraine border: Move likely to stoke invasion fears as war games also planned near borders of Nato members Poland and Lithuania
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.
Kevin Breuninger, CNBC (January 20, 2022): U.S. sanctions four Russian-linked actors for allegedly working to destabilize Ukraine
David L. Stern, Washington Post (January 17, 2022): Former Ukrainian president Poroshenko returns home to face treason charges amid tensions with Russia
James Verini and photos by Paolo Pellegrin, New York Times (January 16, 2022 – photo essay): In the Trenches of Ukraine’s Forever War
Past Eurasia Elections
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
Ayzirek Imanaliyeva, Eurasianet (January 19, 2022): Kyrgyzstan: Pressure piled on nationalist opposition party
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
Regina Smith, The Conversation (January 20, 2022): A year after Navalny’s return, Putin remains atop a changed Russia
Owen Matthews, The Spectator (January 15, 2022): Haunted: the spectre of revolution is stalking Putin
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.
Russia has ramped up its harassment Moldova following the victories of Sandu and her allies. Moreover, 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. More
RFE/RL (January 20, 2022): Moldova Introduces State Of Emergency Amid Russian Gas Crisis
Madalin Necsutu, Balkan Insight (January 18, 2022): Moldova in 2022: Reformists in Power in Year of Turbulence
Armenia Snap Parliamentary Elections: June 20, 2021
Armenia held snap parliamentary elections on June 20 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.
JAMnews (January 19, 2022): Armenian PM wins Pashinyan v Armenia case in Strasbourg court
Laura Pitel, Financial Times (January 14, 2022): Turkish and Armenian envoys meet for normalisation talks
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 in January 2022 rocked the country and left as many as 225 people dead, as well as a reported 12,000 people in detention. Russia briefly sent personnel under the auspices of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), its military alliance of several post-Soviet states. More
Almaz Kumenov, Eurasianet (January 20, 2022): Kazakhstan: De-Nazarbayevification picks up steam, but is it just for show?
Arkady Dubnov, Al Jazeera (January 16, 2022): Kazakhstan: A coup, a counter-coup and a Russian victory: The unrest in Kazakhstan led to consolidation of power in the country and may affect the transition of power in Russia.
Reuters (January 15, 2022): Kazakhstan puts unrest death toll at 225
Farangis Najibullah, RFE/RL (January 15, 2022): ‘Fight Far From Over’ For One Kazakh Protester, Despite Clampdown On Demonstrations
Colleen Wood, The Diplomat (January 14, 2022): Kazakhstan: Local Politics and the Chaos in Almaty: Resolving discontent with Almaty’s local government will be an important step in Kazakhstan’s broader political reform efforts.
Tom Burgis, Financial Times (January 13, 2022): Nazarbayev and the power struggle over Kazakhstan’s future
Ivan Nechepurenko, New York Times (January 13, 2022): Russian-Led Alliance Begins Withdrawing Troops From Kazakhstan
AP (January 13, 2022): After Kazakhstan Unrest, Relatives Await Detainees’ Release: Authorities have refused to allow relatives or lawyers to see the 12,000 people reportedly in custody, giving little information about them.
Eurasia Elections Coming Up in 2022 and 2023
Belarus Constitutional Referendum: February 27, 2022
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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