February 24, 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.

Train station in Minsk, Belarus. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Bestalex (CC BY-SA 4.0)

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

Silvia Amaro, CNBC (February 23, 2022): Belarus opposition leader calls for tougher Western sanctions on Belarus, Russia

Council of Europe (February 22, 2022): Belarus: constitutional amendments put to referendum fail to correct existing strong imbalance of powers, says Venice Commission

Yasmeen Serhan, The Atlantic (February 22, 2022): The Russian Incursion No One Is Talking About: While the world watches Ukraine, Moscow is making moves in neighboring Belarus, too.

Turkmenistan Snap Presidential Election: March 12, 2022

Turkmenistan has called an early presidential election for March 12, 20222 – the election was originally due in February 2024. The country held parliamentary elections on March 28, 2021. Turkmenistan is a highly repressive state that has never held free or fair elections, and lacks a genuine political opposition

The reason for the election appears to be to cement dynastic succession. Current president Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov appears to be stepping down, and his son, Serdar Berdimuhamedov, has announced that he is running. More

RFE/RL (February 23, 2022): Registration Of Turkmen Presidential Candidates Ends As Incumbent’s Son Looks Headed For Landslide Win

Sebastien Peyrouse, The Diplomat (February 19, 2022): Could a New President in Turkmenistan Provide an Opportunity for the US to Promote Reform?

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, although Russia’s invasion could complicate that timeline.

In the last presidential vote, in 2019, actor and comedian Volodymyr Zelenskyy 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. Since the invasion, Ukrainians have rallied around Zelenskyy, but the United Kingdom and others have warned that Russia seeks to topple his government and install a pro-Moscow puppet regime.

Russia’s military aggression, which began in 2014, continues. Russia began a full-scale invasion of Ukraine this week.

Charles A. Kupchan, Council on Foreign Relations (February 24, 2022): Why Putin’s War With Ukraine Is a Miscalculation

William A. Galston, Wall Street Journal (February 22, 2022): Ukraine Invasion Marks an Era’s End: No one can deny any longer that force is a permanent feature of foreign relations.

Abigail Ng, CNBC (February 22, 2022): Ukraine is committed to diplomacy but ‘not afraid of anyone,’ President Zelenskyy says in TV address

Past Eurasia Elections

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

Dustin Gilbreath and Givi Silagadze, OC Media (February 22, 2022): How many votes were bought in Georgia’s local elections?

Euronews with AFP (February 21, 2022): Jailed ex-Georgian president back on hunger strike to demand medical treatment

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

Baurzhan Rakhmetov and Brandon Valeriano, Council on Foreign Relations (February 24, 2022): The Consequences of Internet Shutdowns in Kazakhstan

Paolo Sorbello, The Diplomat (February 18, 2022): Veteran Opposition Figure Resurfaces in Kazakhstan

Eurasia Elections Coming Up in 2022 and 2023

Belarus Constitutional Referendum: February 27, 2022

Turkmenistan Snap Presidential Election: March 12, 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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