Eurasia This Week: February 3, 2022

February 3, 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.

Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral in Minsk, Belarus. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Gavrysh (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Upcoming Eurasia Elections

Belarus Constitutional Referendum: February 27, 2022

Belarus’s dictator, Alexander Lukashenko, has called a constitutional referendum for February 27, 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). The proposed changes would allow Lukashenko to remain in office until 2035. 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 or other neighboring countries. More

Aliaksandr Kudrytski, Bloomberg (February 2, 2022): Belarus Bars Voting From Abroad in Constitutional Referendum

Igor Tsikhanenka, Voice of America (February 2, 2022 – video): Belarus Activists Flee to the US, Say Europe Not Safe

RFE/RL (January 31, 2022): Two More Belarusians Sentenced For ‘Insulting’ Lukashenka

Belsat (January 28, 2022): USA: Sanctions will remain in place until Belarus authorities cease relentless repression, release all political prisoners

Armenia Presidential Election (indirect): March 2022 (proposed)

Armenia’s prime minister has announced that parliament will elect a new president in March, following the resignation of the current president, Armen Sarkissian.

Armenia held snap parliamentary elections on June 20, 2021 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.

Reuters (February 3, 2022): Armenian parliament to elect president in March – report

Ukraine Parliamentary Elections: By October 2023 and Presidential Election: By March 2024

Ukraine is due to hold 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.

Olga Tokariuk, Washington Post (February 1, 2022): My generation of Ukrainians has fought hard for democracy. We stand ready once again.

Mary Louise Kelly, Jonaki Mehta, Courtney Dorning, NPR (January 27, 2022): Ukrainian politician discusses Ukraine’s relationship with the world

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

Myrzaiym Janybek kyzy, Institute for War and Peace Reporting (February 2, 2022): Kyrgyz Authorities Arrest Investigative Journalist: Case highlights growing pressures on free expression in Central Asian state.

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 took 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.

The next parliamentary elections are due in October 2024, but snap elections could happen. More

Peter Wiebler, (February 2, 2022): Local Governance Reform Can Strengthen Georgian Democracy from the Ground Up

Vazha Tavberidze, RFE/RL (January 28, 2022): NATO’s Door Open To Georgia But Political Reforms Needed, Envoy Says

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

RFE/RL (February 3, 2022): Kazakhstan Says Looking Into Dozens Of Alleged Abuses Following Deadly Protests

Roza Nurgozhayeva, Jurist (February 2, 2022): There Will be No ‘New’ Kazakhstan Without Deep Legal, Constitutional Reforms — Law Professor Explains Recent Mass Protests

Almaz Kumenov, Eurasianet (January 28, 2022): Kazakhstan: Tokayev takes reins of ruling party: Former president Nazarbayev’s loss of influence is now all but complete.

Eurasia Elections Coming Up in 2022 and 2023

Belarus Constitutional Referendum: February 27, 2022

Armenia Presidential Election (indirect): March 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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