Last week, in Europe, Central Asia, and the Caucasus, the ongoing border crisis between Belarus and Poland continued to escalate. In Italy, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s attendance at the G20 summit in Rome prompted multiple demonstrations criticizing his presidency. In the United Kingdom, Belgium, and the Netherlands, demonstrations were held calling for greater climate change commitments from world leaders attending the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow.
The ongoing migration crisis between Belarus and Poland continued to escalate last week. Polish law enforcers stopped numerous border crossings, during which reports note that migrants tore down fencing (CNN, 10 November 2021). Reports claim that, at least in some cases, Belarusian security forces have forced migrants to attempt to cross or pushed them into fencing (CNN, 10 November 2021). Polish forces detained and deported some involved in the crossings (CNN, 10 November 2021). The Polish government accuses the Belarusian government of being responsible for the deployment of armed men into Polish territory, claiming Alexander Lukashenko’s regime was responsible for a “deliberate escalation” of tensions (Reuters, 3 November 2021).
Meanwhile, feminist activists gathered for rallies in support of women’s reproductive rights in several cities of Poland last week. The events were sparked by the recent death of a woman from pregnancy-related complications after doctors refused to carry out a potentially life-saving abortion because of newly introduced legal restrictions (Deutsche Welle, 6 November 2021). Last year, Poland’s supreme court tightened restrictions on abortion, including a ban on abortion due to irreversible congenital disabilities (Deutsche Welle, 6 November 2021).
In Italy, Brazilian President Bolsonaro’s attendance at the G20 summit in Rome prompted multiple demonstrations last week. Demonstrators protested against his support for Brazil’s former military dictatorship, as well as his government’s poor climate policy record and mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic (Deutsche Welle, 1 November 2021; France24, 2 November 2021). President Bolsonaro drew further ire from demonstrators when he chose not to attend UN climate talks after the summit and visited towns in Northern Italy instead (France24, 2 November 2021). In Anguillara Veneta, locals demonstrated the municipality’s decision to grant Bolsonaro honorary citizenship due to his ancestral ties to the town. In Pistoia, demonstrators jeered Bolsonaro during his visit to a local monument commemorating Brazilian soldiers who died during World War II.
In the United Kingdom, climate activists led nationwide protests coinciding with the first week of COP26 last week, demanding action from world leaders to combat climate change. On 5 November, Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg led a Fridays for Future student demonstration in Glasgow, accusing world leaders of engaging in greenwashing and false promises around climate action. Approximately 25,000 international climate activists, environmentalists, charity members, Black Lives Matter activists, and trade unionists were reportedly in attendance (The National, 5 November 2021). Climate action demonstrations were also reported in Belgium and the Netherlands last week.
In Georgia, the political opposition staged multiple demonstrations last week against the results of run-off municipal elections held on 30 October. The demonstrations come after the ruling party, the Georgian Dream, secured victories across the majority of municipalities. The opposition has claimed that the results were falsified and has demanded the release of imprisoned former President Mikheil Saakashvili (Agenda.ge, 31 October 2021; Agenda.ge, 2 November 2021). Saakashvili was imprisoned upon his return to Georgia on 1 October on charges of abuse of power and concealing evidence (Reuters, 7 November 2021).
In the Donbas region of Ukraine, fighting between Ukrainian government forces and Russian-led forces slightly decreased last week compared to the previous week. There were 58 armed clashes, 114 shelling incidents, and two fatalities reported.
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