Last week, demonstration activity across Eastern Europe continued at generally low levels, similar to previous weeks. In Belarus, demonstrations against the regime of Alexander Lukashenko continued as he conducted a closed presidential inauguration. Belarusian state forces continued to arrest and use violence against demonstrators.
In Belarus, demonstrations against the regime of Alexander Lukashenko continued in Minsk and in major cities throughout the week (RFE/RL, 26 September 2020). A rally on 20 September gathered more than one hundred thousand people in Minsk (Nasha Niva, 20 September 2020). Police and state-linked forces responded with mass arrests, teargas, and warning shots fired at demonstrators (RFE/RL, 20 September 2020). President Lukashenko conducted a closed presidential inauguration with key members of his administration on 23 September. The inauguration was not announced in advance, likely to prevent provoking a massive demonstration (Moscow Times, 24 September 2020). Still, demonstrators responded by holding a major demonstration on 27 September, which they described as a “people’s inauguration” of the former candidate for president — and likely winner of the elections — Svetlana Tikhanovskaya (Meduza, 28 September 2020). At the same time, anti-government cyber activists began to uncover the identity of numerous police and riot police officers, releasing them to the public. However, despite this public shaming, arrests and police brutality continued (DW, 25 September 2020).
In Russia, there was a minor uptick in demonstrations connected to the 13 September regional elections. The demonstrations were held by several opposition parties citing concerns about new voting procedures that extend the voting period and thereby create more opportunity for the falsification of results (RFE/RL, 20 September 2020; Caucasian Knot, 20 September 2020). Meanwhile, the Khabarovsk demonstrations continued into their twelfth week, though shrank in size, likely due to demonstration fatigue and possibly due to worsening weather conditions (MediaZone, 26 September 2020).
In Greece, thousands demonstrated across the country in a show of support for LGBT rights on the second anniversary of the murder of LGBT activist Zak Kostopoulos (To Vima, 20 September 2020). Demonstrations related to social issues in Greece are likely to increase in coming weeks. The trial of Golden Dawn members accused of killing anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Flyssas is scheduled to conclude on 7 October, while the trial of the alleged far-right killers of Kostopoulos — including four police officers — is scheduled to begin on 21 October (AFP, 18 September 2020; In.gr, 21 September 2020). Meanwhile, in both Greece and the Republic of Cyprus, thousands of high school students occupied more than 200 schools across the two countries demanding improved coronavirus safety measures (Ekathimerini, 26 September 2020; Philenews, 25 September 2020).
In the Donbas region in Ukraine, the number of ceasefire violations between Ukrainian government forces and Russian-led separatists remained very low, though they nearly doubled relative to the previous week. There were 22 armed clashes and 24 shelling incidents last week with no fatalities reported.
© 2020 Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED). All rights reserved.