Last week, in Belarus, demonstrations against President Alexander Lukashenko continued against a backdrop of mass arrests and the sentencing of activists. In Russia, people condemned the government’s inadequate investigation of and potential ties to the 2015 assassination of opposition figure Boris Nemtsov. In Greece, demonstrations, and some acts of arson, in support of the imprisoned left-wing gunman Dimitris Koufodinas, continued. Demonstrations related to the coronavirus pandemic and its economic consequences continued across Europe.
In Belarus, demonstrations took place against the regime of Alexander Lukashenko and in support of the political prisoners, in particular doctor Artsyom Sarokin and journalist Katsyaryna Barysevich. Sarokin and Barysevich were sentenced for publishing information about the cause of death of Roman Bondarenko, a protester allegedly killed by government-linked groups (RFE/RL, 2 March 2021). Elsewhere, mass arrests took place in Minsk and Maladzyechna, with police targeting bloggers, anti-government groups, and a group of pensioners (Nasha Niva, 2 March 2021; Nasha Niva, 28 February 2021; TUT.BY, 1 March 2021). Separately, Lithuanian authoritdies rejected Belarus’ request to extradite Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya in order to prosecute her for alleged “crimes committed against public order, public safety, and the state” (RFE/RL, 5 March 2021).
In Russia, demonstrations connected to the anniversary of the 2015 assassination of prominent opposition figure Boris Nemtsov took place (DW, 27 February 2021). The demonstrators criticized the official investigation into Nemtsov’s death and demanded that authorities uncover the identity of the organizers. Demonstrations related to Nemtsov’s murder also took place in Poland, Lithuania, and Finland.
In Greece, demonstrations continued in support of Dimitris Koufodinas, a jailed gunman and leading member of ‘November 17,’ a defunct left-wing militant group. Supporters of Koufodinas marched nearly daily, as his condition has been deteriorating following over 50 days of a hunger strike. Some individuals carried out arson attacks, mostly against police targets, in solidarity with Koufodinas (Ekathimerini, 4 March 2021; AP, 5 March 2021).
Demonstrations related to the coronavirus pandemic continued across Europe. In Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, people opposed coronavirus measures. In Moldova, North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Serbia, Slovenia, Ukraine, and Cyprus specifically, labor groups condemned the restrictions on their work. Meanwhile, in Spain, Poland, and Kosovo, medics and other essential workers demanded better government support during the pandemic. The Netherlands saw many demonstration events against coronavirus measures, including an attack on a coronavirus testing center with explosives in Bovenkarspel (Dutch News, 3 March 2021).
In the Donbas region of Ukraine, fighting between Ukrainian government forces and Russian-led separatists slightly decreased compared to the previous week. There were 29 armed clashes, 64 shelling incidents, and one fatality reported.
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