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ACLED Regional Overview: Europe, Caucasus, and Central Asia (2 - 8 July 2022)

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Last week in Europe, Caucasus, and Central Asia, the Russian military invasion of Ukraine continued, with violence also spilling across the border into Russia. In Uzbekistan, police deployed deadly force against demonstrators. Far-left violence increased in Greece in solidarity with a jailed anarchist. LGBT+ Pride marches continued across the region, as well as solidarity demonstrations condemning the US Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Farmers continued to demonstrate against plans to restrict nitrogen emissions in the Netherlands and Belgium. In Germany, an explosive device was detonated near a Left Party office. Meanwhile, fighting continued along the Armenia-Azerbaijan Line of Contact.

In Ukraine, fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces continued in the eastern and southern regions of the country last week. On 3 July, after heavy fighting, the Ukrainian army was forced to withdraw from Lysychansk, with Russian forces currently controlling all the large cities in the Luhansk region. From the occupied Luhansk region, Russian forces continued offensive operations in the direction of the Donetsk region (Suspilne Media, 9 July 2022). Ukrainian forces struck nearly a dozen Russian ammunition depots in the Kherson, Zaporizhia, Kharkiv, Donetsk, and Luhansk regions (Newsweek, 7 July 2022). Meanwhile, alleged partisan groups blew up another Russian ammunition depot and a bridge used by Russian forces to transport military equipment in the Kherson region.

Russian forces also continued to target civilian infrastructure with shelling and airstrikes, killing dozens of civilians in the Donetsk, Kharkiv, Kherson, Zaporizhia, and Mykolaiv regions last week.1

In Russia last week, the governors of the Belgorod and Bryansk regions reported artillery shelling coming from Ukrainian territory and drone strikes in the border areas (The Moscow Times, 5 July 2022; Kommersant, 8 July 2022). Additionally, a Russian border guard was killed and three others were injured in a grenade and small arms attack in the Belgorod region, a few hundred meters away from the Russia-Ukraine border (Meduza, 6 July 2022). This violence contributes to the 220% increase in violence in Russia last week relative to the past month flagged by ACLED's Conflict Change Map, which first warned of increased violence to come in the country in the past month. Russian border villages have occasionally come under fire since mid-March, with some incidents confirmed as accidental shelling by Russian forces. Ukraine has not commented on last week's incidents, but has previously denied targeting Russian territory (Ukrinform, 14 July 2022).

Russian police forces broke up several small anti-war pickets, while rallies against the war and in solidarity with Ukraine were also held in France, Germany, Poland, and Switzerland.

In Uzbekistan, mass demonstrations in the Karakalpakstan region, against a constitutional amendment that would remove the right of the region to seek independence, continued on 2 July. In the regional capital, Nukus, people also protested against the arrest of an informal leader of the protest movement and widely-known lawyer, Dauletmurat Tajimuratov (BASE, 2 July 2022). The Uzbek government used deadly force to suppress the demonstrations. On 4 July, the country's prosecutor general reported that 18 people had been killed and over 200 wounded, with over 500 being detained during the demonstrations (RFE/RL, 4 July 2022). The actual number of casualties is likely higher though remains difficult to verify due to a state of emergency in the region and information blackout (RFE/RL, 4 July 2022;, 2 July 2022). Non-governmental sources claim that around 35 people demonstrating in support of Tajimuratov outside his house were killed during his second arrest on 2 July (ACCA Media, 11 July 2022). Following the demonstrations, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev rolled back the amendment affecting the Karakalpakstan region's right to secede; other draft amendments are still under consideration, including one that would allow Mirziyoyev to remain president for two additional terms (RBC, 4 July 2022).

In Greece, there was an increase in far-left violence last week. Anarchist groups staged a series of petrol bomb attacks against riot police in the Athens neighborhood of Exarchia and an explosion at the apartment building of a deputy of the ruling party, New Democracy. As a result, two police officers were hospitalized and over 30 people were arrested (AMNA, 6 July 2022). Additionally, a group called 'Effectively Solidary Anarchists' blew up a tax office in northern Athens. The attacks were reportedly perpetrated in solidarity with a jailed anarchist after his release request was rejected for a second time. The anarchist became known as the 'Archer of the Constitution' during the February 2011 riots when he attacked the parliament building with a bow and arrow (Ekathimerini, 7 July 2022; Ekathimirini, 8 July 2022). These trends contribute to the 233% increase in violence in Attica, home to Athens, last week relative to the past month flagged by ACLED's Subnational Surge Tracker; the tool first warned of increased violence to come in Attica in the past month.

Despite the official end of Pride Month at the end of June, LGBT+ Pride marches continued to be held in the region last week, with events recorded in Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. In the United Kingdom, the Pride in London parade was attended by more than one million people, in what organizers described as the "biggest" gathering in favor of LGBT+ rights in the country's history (BBC News, 2 July 2022).

Meanwhile, solidarity demonstrations condemning the US Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, restricting access to abortion, continued in the region last week. Rallies in solidarity with US women and in defense of women's right to abortion were recorded in Croatia, France, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

In the Netherlands, farmers' deep-rooted discontent with the government's plans to cut nitrogen emissions, rekindled in June after new reduction targets were introduced, continued to fuel a high volume of events last week. In over 110 demonstration events recorded across the country, farmers blocked supermarket distribution hubs and highways (Reuters, 4 July 2022). In several instances, clashes also broke out between farmers and police forces, notably in Heerenveen, where a violent demonstration erupted on 4 July. The next day, a police officer fired live ammunition at a farmer attempting to slip through a police blockade during a protest. ACLED's Conflict Change Map first warned of increased violence to come in the Netherlands in the past month. Gatherings in solidarity with the Dutch farmers' movement were staged by fishermen and other actors, and by farmers in Germany. Farmers also took to the streets in Flanders in Belgium to denounce similar governmental plans to cut nitrogen emissions in their sector.

In Germany, unknown assailants detonated a homemade explosive device near a local Left Party office in downtown Oberhausen in North Rhine-Westphalia on the night between 4 and 5 July, damaging the interior of the premises and nearby businesses. While police continue to investigate different leads, Left Party officials claim the detonation was a targeted attack by the far-right, after stickers with neo-Nazi messages were stuck on the office and local party officials received threatening letters (DW, 5 July 2022; Die Zeit, 7 July 2022).

Along the Armenia-Azerbaijan Line of Contact, ceasefire violations increased last week. Fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces was recorded in the Shahumyan region of Azerbaijan and the Vayots Dzor region of Armenia. These trends contribute to the 140% increase in violence in Shahumyan last week relative to the past month flagged by ACLED's Subnational Surge Tracker. The Subnational Tracker first warned of increased violence to come in Shahumyan in the past month.