Some 60,000 Germans marched against nuclear power on March 12, forming a 45-kilometer human chain from Neckarwestheim power plant to the city of Stuttgart in Baden-Württemberg state. The demonstration had been planned for some time, but was given new urgency after the Japanese nuclear disaster. Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has extended the lifespan of Germany's 17 nuclear power plants for another 12 years beyond their original shutdown date, summoned senior cabinet ministers to an emergency meeting on nuclear safety. (The Local, Germany, March 13; AP, The Guardian, March 12)
Some 17,000 Germans braved freezing temperatures to form a human chain around central Dresden Feb. 13, blocking some 1,000 followers of the neo-Nazi National Democratic (sic) Party (NPD) from holding a "funeral march" on the city to mark the 66th anniversary of the Allied bombardment during World War II. Under the banner of the local "Nazi-Free Dresden" organization, the anti-fascists wore white roses on their lapels (to commemorate the White Rose student resistance group of the 1940s) and encircled the city center while bells tolled from the churches. "The people of Dresden are defending their remembrance," said German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, who presided at the official commemoration of the air raids that killed an estimated 25,000. (DW-World, DPA, AFP, Feb. 13)
Thousands of people marched in Milan to demand the resignation of Italy's Premier Silvio Berlusconi Feb. 5. Some of the country's foremost progressive intellectuals, including Umberto Eco and anti-mafia author Roberto Saviano, as well as union leaders and others, addressed the crowd. (AP, Feb. 5) Some 70,000 also marched Serbia's parliament building in Belgrade, demanding early elections—but here, the populist space was assumed by the right, with Tomislav Nikolic of the nationalist Serbian Progress Party (SNS) addressing the crowd. (AFP, Feb. 5)
A suicide blast at Moscow's Domodedovo airport killed at least 35 and injured up to 180 on Jan. 24. No group has claimed responsibility, but an unidentified law enforcement official told Interfax that three North Caucasus natives have been put on a national wanted list. The official said investigators have linked the men to two suspected female suicide bombers, one of whom died in a largely unnoticed blast in a Moscow sports club on Dec. 31. No one but the woman died in the explosion. The second woman, a 24-year-old native of Chechnya, was arrested earlier this month in Volgograd on suspicion of transporting explosives. Russia's National Anti-terrorism Committee (NAC) pledges tough new security measures at the country's airports. (RIA/Novosti, Moscow Times, Jan. 23)
Three were shot dead by police in protests in the Albanian capital Tirana Jan. 21, with 40 demonstrators and 17 police officers reported injured. Violence broke out as hundreds of protesters pushed against the police barricade set up to protect the prime minister's office, some hurling firecrackers and stones. Police responded with tear gas, a water cannon, and then live fire. Running clashes ensued, with protesters setting fire to police cars. "The bastard children of Albania's own Ben Alis conceived Tunisian scenarios...for you citizens of Albania," said Prime Minister Sali Berisha, comparing his political opponents with the ousted Tunisian president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.
Neo-Nazis have taken over the entire village of Jamel in Germany's northeastern Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. "The police, the authorities, no one dares to intervene," Uwe Wandel, mayor of the district that includes the village, told Der Spiegel. Jamel is home to Sven Kruger, a leader of the ultra-right National Democratic Party, an openly Hitler-nostalgist outfit that has had seats in the state parliament since 2006. Kruger and his allies have bought up nearly the whole village and driven others out, the magazine reports. Horst Lohmeyer, one of the few residents to oppose the extremists, said, "They see Jamel as a 'nationally liberated zone'"—meaning a place foreigners and anti-fascists must fear to tread. (UPI, Jan. 3)
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Jan. 10 for the release of opposition candidates, journalists and others detained in Belarus during the crackdown on protests following the Dec. 19 election. Police beat and arrested protesters and rounded up opposition candidates after the vote, which officially handed a fourth term to President Alexander Lukashenko. As of last week, some 200 of the estimated 650 detainees were still being held. (Reuters, Jan. 10)
From Charter 97, Minsk, Jan. 7:
"European Belarus" demands immediate release of all political prisoners
"European Belarus" civil campaign demands the international community to impose the harshest political and economic sanctions against the usurper, and unconditional immediate release of all political prisoners. It was stated on January 5 at a press-conference in Warsaw by "European Belarus" coordinator Zmitser Barodka.