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ACLED Regional Overview: Europe, Caucasus, and Central Asia (9 - 15 July 2022)

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Last week in Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia, the Russian military invasion of Ukraine continued, with incidents of sabotage and cross-border shelling also reported in Russia. Relatives of demonstrators killed during the January mass demonstrations in Kazakhstan demanded justice. LGBT+ marches and climate-related demonstrations took place across Europe, while Dutch farmers continue to protest over a proposed cut in nitrogen emissions. Outbreaks of rioting were recorded in France during Bastille Day celebrations on 14 July. Across Northern Ireland, thousands of people took part in parades organized by the Orange Order to commemorate the 1690 Battle of the Boyne on 12 July (BBC, 12 July 2022). 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. Russian forces continued offensive operations in the Donetsk region, primarily in the direction of Bakhmut, which suffered from heavy shelling (Hromadske, 14 July 2022; Suspilne Media, 15 July 2022). Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces struck several Russian ammunition depots in the Kherson, Donetsk, and Luhansk regions (Novoye Vremya Ukraine, 12 July 2022).

Russian forces also continued to target civilian infrastructure with shelling and missile strikes last week. On 9 July, Russian shelling of Chasiv Yar in the Donetsk region destroyed a five-story residential building, killing 48 civilians (Ukrayinska Pravda, 13 July 2022).1 On 14 July, a Russian missile strike hit the center of Vinnytsia, killing 24 civilians and heavily injuring dozens (RFE/RL, 16 July 2022). Deadly shelling of civilians was also recorded in the Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, and Dnipropetrovsk regions.

In Russia, an explosive device went off on railway tracks in the Bryansk border region on 9 July in an act of railway sabotage aimed at disrupting the movement of Russian military equipment to Ukraine (Activatica, 9 July 2022). Similar acts of railway sabotage were recorded in Russia in late June. Such acts of sabotage have coincided with a significant increase in the number of train derailments in Russia between March and June compared to the same period last year (The Insider, 6 July 2022). Additionally, the governors of Bryansk and Kursk regions accuse Ukrainian forces of several incidents of cross-border shelling and drone strikes last week (Kommersant, 12 July 2022; Rosbalt, 14 July 2022; Rosbalt, 15 July 2022). These trends contribute to the 129% increase in violence in Bryansk last week relative to the past month flagged by ACLED's Subnational Threat Tracker; the tool first warned of increased violence to come in Bryansk in the past month.

Rallies against the Russian invasion of Ukraine took place in Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy, and Poland last week.

In Kazakhstan, families of demonstrators killed during demonstrations against price hikes in early January protested last week, demanding justice. People staged multiple protests outside the Akorda presidential palace in Nur-Sultan, demanding a fair investigation into the deaths of their family members and their acquittals for alleged crimes committed during the January demonstrations. Kazakh authorities responded to demonstrations with violent repression, resulting in over 200 demonstrators being killed. While authorities claim that demonstrators attempted a coup and engaged in attacks on government buildings, ACLED found that demonstrators remained peaceful in 95% of the demonstrations. Some demonstrators were detained by police after camping outside the presidential palace for several days, demanding a meeting with country officials. Human rights organizations have criticized Kazakh authorities for failing to investigate the deaths of more than 200 demonstrators during deadly riots in January (HRW, 5 May 2022).

LGBT+ marches, as well as rallies condemning a recent shooting outside a gay bar in Oslo, Norway, were held in Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Romania, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom last week.

Meanwhile, in France, violence was recorded across the country last week on the sidelines of French National Day celebrations, known also as Bastille Day, on 14 July. Rioters threw mortar fireworks at police and set garbage bins on fire in at least a dozen locations. At least two police officers were injured and several people were arrested.

In the Netherlands, Dutch farmers continue to hold demonstrations last week against the government's plans to cut nitrogen emissions, blocking highways in multiple parts of the country. However, the number of recorded demonstration events significantly decreased last week, despite negotiations between the government and the sector failing to progress (Pig Business, 18 July 2022). Farmers from Germany and Belgium joined their counterparts during protests in Roermond and Ter Apel, in the Netherlands, while solidarity demonstrations in support of Dutch farmers were also recorded in Germany.

In Northern Ireland, thousands of people took part in parades organized by the loyalist Orange Order across Northern Ireland to mark the Twelfth of July, commemorating William III's victory at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 (BBC, 12 July 2022). Despite the sensitive nature of the parades, there were no instances of violence reported.2 Commemorations and sectarian demonstrations in Northern Ireland are often at risk of turning violent, with most parade-related violence in Belfast occurring during the annual marching season, beginning in March and peaking in July.

Environmental and climate activists demonstrated across Europe last week, demanding more climate action and reduced reliance on fossil fuels. The police intervened and arrested activists in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, and the United Kingdom. Demonstration activity was also recorded in Italy, Spain, Sweden, and Finland.

Along the Armenia-Azerbaijan Line of Contact, fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces was recorded in the Shahumyan region of Azerbaijan last week.3 These trends contribute to the 110% increase in violence in Shahumyan in the past month relative to the past year flagged by ACLED's Subnational Threat Tracker. The Subnational Tracker first warned of increased violence to come in Shahumyan in the past month. Additionally, an Azerbaijani and a Turkish civilian were hit by landmine explosions in the Kashatagh and Martuni regions.