Last week in Europe, Caucasus, and Central Asia, amid the ongoing Russian military invasion of Ukraine, Russian forces targeted over a dozen of regions across Ukraine with missile and drone strikes. The attacks prompted a wave of solidarity protests across the region. Violence related to the invasion also continued to spill across the border into Russia. Ceasefire violations continued along the Armenia-Azerbaijan Line of Contact. A deadly shooting occurred outside an LGBT+ bar in Slovakia, triggering solidarity and pro-LGBT+ rallies in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Italy. Meanwhile, the death of Mahsa Amini and rising living costs continued to spark demonstrations across Europe.
In Ukraine, fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces continued in the eastern and southern regions of the country last week. In the Donetsk region, where almost half of the country’s political violence was recorded last week, Russian forces engaged in offensive operations in the direction of Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Soledar (ISW, 8 October 2022). In the Luhansk region, Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations in the direction of Kreminna and Svatove (ISW, 12 October 2022).
Meanwhile, suspected Ukrainian security services triggered an explosion on 8 October, which severely damaged the Kerch bridge connecting Russia with the occupied Crimean peninsula across the Kerch Strait. Four Russian civilians were reportedly killed in the explosion. The bridge is an important supply and logistics artery for Russian military operations in southern Ukraine (New York Times, 8 October 2022). The Russian anti-terrorism committee claims that the bomb was loaded onto a truck that drove across the bridge (Meduza, 8 October 2022). Some analysts suggest that this claim aims to reduce the responsibility of Russian authorities for preventing the attack, claiming instead that an air or maritime drone may have been involved, or explosives attached to the bottom of the bridge (Molfar, 11 October 2022).
On 10 October, Russian forces launched missile and drone strikes across Ukraine, hitting critical infrastructure and civilian buildings in over a dozen regions, including strikes in the cities of Kyiv, Lviv, Dnipro, and Zaporizhia. As a result, at least 20 civilians were reportedly killed and 108 were wounded (Suspilne Media, 11 October 2022). The strikes destroyed 30% of all Ukrainian power stations, knocking out power in hundreds of areas across the country (Volodymyr Zelensky, 18 October 2022; Ukrinform, 11 October 2022). Additionally, at least a further 29 civilians were reportedly killed in Russian airstrikes and shelling of Zaporizhia on 9 and 14 October. Rallies in solidarity with Ukraine and condemning the Russian attacks were subsequently recorded in Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, North Macedonia, Poland, and the United Kingdom.
In Russia, two military enlistment offices and one local administration building were set on fire last week in the Republic of Bashkortostan, Udmurt Republic, and the Chelyabinsk region. Attacks on military enlistment offices have increased since the announcement of a “partial mobilization” on 21 September. Separately, the governors of Kursk and Belgorod regions accused Ukrainian forces of over a dozen incidents of cross-border fire, which hit infrastructure in villages and reportedly killed a resident in Shebekino (Novaya Gazeta, 10 October 2022). This violence contributed to the 115% increase in violent events in Russia last week relative to the weekly average for the preceding month. ACLED’s Conflict Change Map also warned of increased violence in the country during the preceding four weeks.
Meanwhile, in Belarus, President Aleksandr Lukashenko announced the formation of a regional group of armed forces in cooperation with the Russian Armed Forces (RFE/RL, 14 October 2022; 16 October 2022). According to Ukrainian officials, the joint regional group is likely intended to consolidate Russia’s military presence in Belarus and divert Ukrainian forces to the northern regions bordering Belarus (Financial Times, 13 October 2022).
Daily ceasefire violations continued along the Armenia-Azerbaijan Line of Contact. Additionally, three Azerbaijani civilians were wounded in landmine explosions in the Agdam and Fizui districts of Azerbaijan and one Armenian serviceman was reportedly killed in a landmine explosion in the Tavush region of Armenia.
In Slovakia, two men were shot dead in a suspected hate crime outside an LGBT+ bar in Bratislava on 12 October. A woman was also injured in the attack. The shooter, whose body was later found with apparent self-inflicted gun shot wounds, had written anti-LGBT+ and anti-Semitic social media posts prior to the attack (BBC, 15 October 2022). On 14 October, thousands of people, including the president and prime minister, joined a protest in commemoration of the two victims and in support of LGBT+ rights (BBC, 15 October 2022). A solidarity demonstration was also held in the Czech Republic. Additionally, marches and gatherings to oppose discrimination against LGBT+ people were recorded in Italy, where recent general elections and the likely formation of a right/far-right governing coalition have raised concerns about the protection of LGBT+ rights (Euronews, 28 September 2022; La Stampa, 12 October 2022).
The death of Mahsa Amini in Iran continued to spark solidarity gatherings across Europe last week for a fourth consecutive week. Rallies in support of the ongoing protests and women’s rights in Iran were observed in Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Kosovo, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. In Germany, police arrested two people during a demonstration in front of the Iranian Consulate General in Hamburg on 10 October, after participants threw eggs and stones at the premises. Meanwhile, on the night between 13 and 14 October, unknown perpetrators attempted to set fire to a school in Hamburg owned by the Iranian state.
Demonstration activity linked to rising living costs, inflation, and energy prices continued across the region last week, with cross-sector protests recorded in Belgium, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Moldova, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, and the United Kingdom. In Germany, more than 35 ‘Monday Walks’ – a spontaneous form of protest that had previously been adopted to oppose COVID-19 restrictions and vaccine mandates – were observed on 10 October, with participants calling for a shift in the government’s energy policy. Several walks were organized by far-right parties (Tagesspiegel, 11 October 2022).
Note: This dashboard automatically updates to cover the latest four weeks of data released by ACLED. Use the date filters to view data for the one-week period covered by this Regional Overview.