Last week in Europe, Caucasus, and Central Asia, the Russian military invasion of Ukraine continued amid ongoing counteroffensive operations by Ukrainian forces. In Russia, attacks on enlistment offices continued, while artillery fire reportedly targeted regions close to the Ukrainian border. Fighting continued along the Armenia-Azerbaijan Line of Contact. In Kyrgyzstan, the government’s handling of border disputes sparked demonstrations. The death of Mahsa Amini in Iran continued to drive solidarity rallies across Europe.
In Ukraine, fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces continued in the east and the south of the country last week. On 1 October, Ukrainian forces liberated the strategically important town of Lyman in the Donetsk region, which Russia had used as a logistics and transport hub for its military operations in northern Donbas (The Guardian, 2 October 2022). Ukrainian forces also continued to advance in the Kharkiv region, wresting control of several settlements around Kupiansk and Borova from Russian troops, and closing in on the administrative border with the Luhansk region. The Ukrainian military command also announced reclaiming over a dozen towns in the Beryslavskyi district of the southern Kherson region.
Russian forces continued to target civilian infrastructure with shelling and airstrikes last week, killing dozens of civilians. In Zaporizhia, Russian forces shelled residential buildings on 6 October, reportedly killing 17 people (Ukrayinska Pravda, 8 October 2022). Additionally, at least six civilians were reportedly killed and seven injured in landmine explosions in the Kharkiv, Donetsk, Sumy, and Chernihiv regions. Meanwhile, several mass burial sites with the bodies of suspected civilians killed during the Russian occupation were found last week in recently liberated Lyman and Sviatohirsk (Ukrayinska Pravda, 7 October 2022). As of 6 October, Ukrainian police also claim to have discovered 22 Russian torture chambers throughout the de-occupied Kharkiv region (Centre for Strategic Communications, 6 October 2022).
In Russia, three military enlistment offices were set on fire last week in the Republic of Tuva and in the Krasnoyarsk and Krasnodar regions, following the announcement of a “partial mobilization” on 21 September. Following anti-mobilization demonstrations held between 21-29 September and growing public discontent around the war in Ukraine (ISW, 2 October 2022), allies of imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny announced the recreation of a network of headquarters in Russia and recruitment of members and volunteers (Activatica, 4 October 2022). Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation was recognized as an extremist organization in June 2021 and closed down.
Meanwhile, governors of the Belgorod and Kursk regions accused Ukrainian forces of shelling villages close to the Ukrainian border, which reportedly resulted in the death of two residents (TV Rain, 3 October 2022; Novaya Gazeta, 6 October 2022).
Ceasefire violations continued along the Armenia-Azerbaijan Line of Contact throughout last week, with the majority of armed clashes recorded on 3 October. Additionally, three Azerbaijani civilians and one Armenian civilian were wounded in landmine explosions in the western Tartar and Martuni regions of Azerbaijan and the eastern Gegharkunik region of Armenia. Separately, 17 Armenian prisoners of war that had been captured during the 13-14 September clashes were returned to Armenia on 4 October (168 Hours, 4 October 2022). At the diplomatic level, following the EU Leaders Summit in Prague on 6 and 7 October, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev agreed to recognize the territorial integrities of Armenia and Azerbaijan and deploy an EU civilian observer mission to the Armenia-Azerbaijan border (OC Media, 7 October 2022).
In Kyrgyzstan, protests related to border disputes with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan were held in border regions of the country. Residents of villages bordering Tajikistan organized several protests condemning the Kyrgyz government’s actions following clashes between Tajik and Kyrgyz border guards in mid-September. Protesters criticized the removal of several Kyrgyz border posts from disputed territory (Belta, 26 September 2022). They also demanded that the government either increase security and financial support for bordering villages or provide residents with arms for self-defense. Meanwhile, residents of the Osh region protested against the government-announced border deal with Uzbekistan, demanding that the contested Kempir-Abad (Andijan) water reservoir remain on the Kyrgyz side of the border (Eurasianet, 7 October 2022).
The death of Mahsa Amini in Iran continued to spark solidarity rallies across Europe last week for a third consecutive week. Rallies in support of the ongoing Iranian protests and women’s rights in Iran were recorded in Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. In Switzerland, police used rubber bullets against demonstrators in Bern after one demonstrator tried to enter the Iranian embassy’s premises and remove a floating Iranian flag. In Germany, an Iranian citizen carried out an arson attack on the Iranian embassy in Berlin, to show support for Iranians protesting against the Iranian regime following Amini’s death (Tagesspiegel, 4 October 2022).
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