Eurasia This Week: March 3, 2022

March 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.

Minsk, Belarus. Belarus held a constitutional referendum on February 27 that has been widely criticized by both the international community and civil society in Belarus. Photo credit:
Wikimedia/Homoatrox (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Upcoming Eurasia Elections

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

Eurasianet (March 1, 2022): Turkmenistan: Berdymukhamedov 2.0 hits campaign trail

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 on February 24, 2022.

Heather Holeman, KFOR (March 3, 2022): Meeting in secret, Ukrainian parliament sings National Anthem

Reuters (March 3, 2022): Ukrainian parliament backs bill to seize Russia-owned assets in Ukraine

Elisha Fieldstadt, NBC News (March 1, 2022): Zelenskyy gets standing ovation after speech to European Parliament: ‘Nobody is going to break us’

Meredith Deliso, AP (February 25, 2022): Ukrainian leaders vow to arm themselves as Russian troops close in on Kyiv

Valerie Hopkins, New York Times (February 24, 2022): Zelensky Steps Into a Role Few Expected: Ukraine’s Wartime President

Past Eurasia Elections

Armenia Indirect Presidential Election: March 3, 2022

Armenia’s parliament elected a new president on March 3, following the resignation of the current president, Armen Sarkissian. Vahagn Khachaturian won the vote, which was boycotted by key opposition factions. In Armenia’s parliamentary system, the president plays a largely ceremonial role.

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.

JAMnews (March 3, 2022): New president of Armenia: who is he and what does he intend to do

Belarus Constitutional Referendum: February 27, 2022

Belarus’s dictator, Alexander Lukashenko, held a constitutional referendum on 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 changes allow Lukashenko to remain in office until 2035 and scrap Belarus’s non-nuclear status. 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 staged troops in Belarus ahead of its invasion of Ukraine. More

Aliaksandr Kudrytsk, Bloomerg (March 3, 2022): Why Belarus Is in Lockstep With Russia Over Ukraine

AFP (March 3, 2022): Russian and Belarus Athletes Banned From Winter Paralympics – IPC

Reuters (February 27, 2022): Belarus referendum approves proposal to renounce non-nuclear status – agencies

Chad de Guzman, Time (February 25, 2022): Why Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Led to Sanctions on Belarus

IFES (February 24, 2022): FAQs: Belarus Constitutional Referendum

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

Shota Kincha, OC Media (March 1, 2022): Pro-Ukraine protesters in Georgia demand government resignation

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

Euronews (March 3, 2022): Moldova asks to join the European Union – a week after Russia invades Ukraine

Madalin Necsutu, Balkan Insight (February 25, 2022): Moldova Concerned About Possible Attack from Russian-Backed Region

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

Catherine Putz, The Diplomat (March 2, 2022): Nur Otan No More? Kazakhstan’s Ruling Party Rebrands as ‘Amanat’

James Grant and Sarah Shinton, The National Interest (February 27, 2022): As the Dust Settles in Kazakhstan, A Path Forward Is Revealed: As the government promises to improve people’s lives and restore the world’s confidence, it should be careful to factor in its relationships with the great powers.

Eurasia Elections Coming Up in 2022 and 2023

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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