14
Nov
12:05 UTC

MAX – Europe and the Americas Daily Summary – November 14, 2020

The following report reviews current events in the Europe and the Americas region and their possible effect on business continuity and security.

Highlights of the Day

Americas

  • Americas: Tropical Storm Iota to strengthen into Hurricane, affect Central American countries on November 16; remain cognizant of updates
  • Belize: Opposition leader John Briceno elected Prime Minister on November 12; significant win for PUP after 12 years of status quo
  • Mexico: Multiple demonstrations against police brutality to be held from 14:00 (local time) in Cancun on November 15; maintain vigilance

 

Europe

  • Belarus: Protester dies after assault by group of masked individuals in Minsk on November 11; likely perpetrated by pro-government forces 
  • Moldova: Second round of presidential elections to be held on November 15; allot for disruptions
  • Switzerland: Two arrested, including armed suspect after police shootout in Biel on November 12; incident unlikely to be militant attack

 

Americas Actionable Items

Americas: Tightened restrictions in place due to rising COVID-19 cases in region, as per November 14 reports; remain cognizant of updates

The ban on foreign nationals entering Brazil via land and maritime borders is extended through December 12. The restrictions apply to all non-residential foreign nationals. However, Brazilian citizens and their close family members, permanent residents, foreign government workers, people traveling for trade and humanitarian purposes are permitted to cross the border. In Canada, Ontario released its new color-coded system and added more regions into the ‘red zone’. The list of regions and restrictions is available here. From November 23, foreigners not residing in Chile are allowed to enter the country for tourism, however, they are required to present a negative RT-PCR test taken not more than 72 hours prior to the flight. Between November 23-December 7, all travelers from high-risk countries, as published weekly by the World Health Organization (WHO), into Chile will be subject to mandatory quarantine even if they have a negative test. In the US, North Dakota made the use of facemasks when indoors in businesses and public spaces, and outdoor settings where social distancing cannot be maintained mandatory until at least December 13.

Those operating or residing in the Americas on November 14 and the coming days are advised to remain cognizant of authorities’ instructions regarding quarantines and health procedures.

 

Americas: Tropical Storm Iota to strengthen into Hurricane, affect Central American countries on November 16; remain cognizant of updates

On November 14, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) released an advisory warning that Tropical Storm Iota could strengthen into a major hurricane and affect multiple countries in Central America by November 16. The NHC said that Iota would make landfall in northern Nicaragua or eastern Honduras on November 16. Heavy rainfall is expected to affect Nicaragua and Honduras, and possibly produce accumulations up to 75-150 mm in Costa Rica, northern Colombia, Guatemala, Belize, Panama, and El Salvador over the coming days. The NHC further warns that the risk of flooding and landslides across countries in the region cannot be ruled out. Authorities are carrying out evacuations in Sula Valley in Honduras. The US embassy in Guatemala issued an alert for Iota, warning of heavy rain in the eastern and east-central areas of the country.

Those operating or residing in the aforementioned regions on November 14 and over the coming days are advised to remain abreast of local authorities’ updates on weather-related risks. 

 

Mexico: Multiple demonstrations against police brutality to be held from 14:00 (local time) in Cancun on November 15; maintain vigilance

Multiple protests against police brutality are planned to be held in Cancun on November 15. Protestors are expected to gather from 14:00 (local time) in front of the Municipal Government Palace. Another demonstration is scheduled to be held at the same location from 17:00. The protests follow a series of demonstrations held against police brutality recently in Cancun and other major urban centers in Mexico after police shot at demonstrators protesting against local femicide on November 9 in Cancun.

Based on precedent and the mobilization capacity of the groups involved, the protest in Cancun on November 15 is expected to see turnout in mid-to-high thousands. The demonstration contains a heightened potential for unrest in the form of clashes between police and protesters, with security forces likely to use forcible dispersal methods, including tear gas, water cannons, and conducting mass arrests. As such, a bolstered presence of security officials is expected to be deployed in the vicinity of the protest. Significant travel disruptions are expected from the afternoon hours onwards, especially in the vicinity of Municipal Government Palace.

Those operating or residing in Cancun on November 15 are advised to maintain vigilance and allot for disruptions arising due to the slated protests.

 

USA: Far-right groups, NRA members to stage counter-protest to BLM rally at Dublin City Hall, CA on November 15; avoid nonessential travel

On November 15, far-right groups such as the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, as well as members of the National Rifle Association (NRA) will reportedly stage a protest against a planned Black Lives Matter (BLM) rally at the Dublin City Hall, CA. Organizers have allegedly told attendees to show up with vests and helmets owing to the possibility of violence.

The combined turnouts for both rallies will likely be in the low-to-mid hundreds. Given the heightened sentiments surrounding the recent Presidential elections and that organizers anticipate violence, the potential for unrest among opposing groups and with the deployed security forces remains high, with forcible dispersal measures and arrests liable to be witnessed. Associated travel disruptions can be anticipated in the vicinity. 

Those operating or residing in Dublin, CA on November 15 are advised to avoid nonessential travel in the vicinity of the City Hall due to the potential for unrest.

 

Americas Notable Events

Belize: Opposition leader John Briceno elected Prime Minister on November 12; significant win for PUP after 12 years of status quo

Opposition leader of the People’s United Party (PUP), John Briceno, was sworn in as Prime Minister on November 12, with the party sweeping 26 of the 31 seats in the general elections. Briceno defeated Patrick Faber of the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP), marking an opposition win after three successive terms. The PUP ran on its “Plan Belize”, promising to stimulate the economy in the aftermath of the pandemic.

The victory was likely brought on by criticism of the UDP’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and prevailing anti-government sentiments, after UDP’s preferred successor, former Minister of Security John Saldivar, was accused of corruption by US authorities. Further, the win can be seen through the lens of a wave of opposition wins in smaller South and Central American countries such as Guyana and Suriname, highlighting the anti-establishment sentiments pervading through the region. It remains unclear whether Plan Belize will be seen as a success, given that several analysts have criticized the economic policies and proposed tax reforms, potentially leading to a stumbling block for the PUP in its first few months.

 

Canada: Hoax prompts major police response in Montreal, QC gaming company office on November 3; suspect likely intended to cause disruptions

On November 13, a call to police, since deemed a hoax, prompted a major police operation in Montreal, Quebec in the vicinity of the offices of a gaming company. Specialized tactical officers were observed evacuating the building, but no threat was ever detected and no injuries were reported. Initial reports of the incident stated that there was a hostage situation underway. The details of the hoax remain unclear.

Given that employees of the gaming company were seen barricading themselves on the roof of the building, and armed police units responded to the area, it seems likely that the initial reports of a hostage situation were unverified and a result of misinformation. Although the details remain unclear as of writing, since no active threat was identified upon investigation, it remains possible that the hoax call was prompted by an individual intending to generate fear and significant disruptions to business and travel. Investigations regarding the source of the call and the false reports of a hostage-taking are expected to continue, with newly released information likely in the coming days.

 

Venezuela: One officer dead in shooting between CICPC, PNB officers in Maracaibo on November 12; likely to raise criticism of security units

Reports indicate that a shootout between officers Cuerpo de Investigaciones Cientaficas, Penales y Criminalisticas (CICPC) and Policia Nacional Bolivariana (PNB) security units resulted in the death of one officer in the Maracaibo city of Zulia on November 12. The shooting occurred when employees of a gas station first let PNB officers fill the tanks of their vehicles, which led to an altercation with a CIPC officer, who accused the PNB of cutting through the line. Sources also claim that the CIPC officer who fired the shot was inebriated at the time of the incident. 

In addition to highlighting a lack of understanding amongst different security units in the country, the incident highlights violence within the security forces, who have been accused of brutality on several occasions. In addition, the fact that the CICP officer was inebriated is likely to raise severe criticism of the security unit. While the shootout did not result in civilian casualties, there nonetheless remains a threat of such confrontations injuring onlookers. Further, the incident continues to highlight unrest resulting from the ongoing gasoline shortages.

 

Europe Actionable Items

Europe: Countries tightened domestic restrictions as COVID-19 cases spike in region on November 14; remain cognizant of authorities’ updates

From November 23, inbound travelers to the Canary Islands from regions deemed as high-risk will be required to present proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of travel. In Kosovo, an overnight curfew for businesses is in place from 19:00 to 05:00 (local time) in the cities of Pristina, Prizren, Peja, Podujeva, Gjakova, Ferizaj, and  Gjilan until further notice. In Montenegro, all nonessential inter-municipal travel is prohibited during the weekends. The government has announced a nationwide curfew from November 15 until at least December 1 between 21:00-05:00 (local time). Romania extended the country’s state of alert due to the COVID-19 pandemic until December 15. In Spain, the health ministry announced that from November 23, authorities would demand travelers arriving in the country from high-risk countries to present a negative PCR test carried out 72 hours before entry. Those found to be in violation of the rule could face a fine of 6,000 EUR. The UK added eight destinations to the quarantine-free list, including Bahrain, Chile, Cambodia, Iceland, and Laos among others. 

Those operating or residing in Europe on November 14 and the coming days are advised to remain cognizant of authorities’ instructions regarding quarantines, travel restrictions, and health procedures.

 

France: Yellow Vests activists to stage protest in Lille at Place de la Republique at 13:00 (local time) on November 14; maintain vigilance

On November 14, activists associated with the Yellow Vests (YV) movement are slated to stage a protest in Lille at the Place de la Republique at 13:00 (local time). Protesters intend to march through the city following the initial gatherings, however, details on the route and the end location remain unconfirmed at this time. 

Based on precedent, the protest carries with it a latent potential for unrest. Protesters could clash with security forces, who may resort to tear gas or conducting arrests to disperse crowds. As such, a bolstered police presence is likely to be deployed in the vicinity of Place de la Republique. Disruptions to vehicular and pedestrian traffic may be experienced during the afternoon hours. 

Those operating or residing in Lille on November 14 are advised to maintain vigilance in the vicinity of the slated protest due to the potential for unrest. 

 

Moldova: Second round of presidential elections to be held on November 15; allot for disruptions

The runoff second round of the 2020 presidential elections have been scheduled for November 15. Voters will choose between incumbent Igor Dodon of pro-Russian Partidul Socialistilor din Republica Moldova (PSRM) and Maia Sandu of pro-EU Partidul Actiune si Solidaritate (PAS). Polling stations will remain open from 07:00-21:00 (local time). Sandu led the first round with 36 percent votes, followed by Dodon with 32 and Our Party’s Renato Usatii with 16. 

Given that the race was closely contested in the first round, the votes of Usatii’s supporters are likely to play a decisive role in the runoff elections. While Usatii has not endorsed Sandu publicly thus far, given that he has criticized Dodon on several occasions accusing him of accepting illegal funding for his campaign from Russia, there remains a likelihood of his supporters’ votes being cast in favor of Sandu. Further, with more polling stations installed abroad, the Western diaspora, which is largely in favor of Sandu, may have a larger turnout on November 15. As such, increased security and traffic disruptions can be expected near polling stations. 

Those operating or residing in Moldova on November 15 are advised to allot for disruptions to traffic in the vicinity of all polling stations for the duration of the voting process. 

 

Europe Notable Events

Belarus: Protester dies after assault by group of masked individuals in Minsk on November 11; likely perpetrated by pro-government forces 

Raman Bandarenka, an anti-government protester died after masked individuals allegedly kidnapped and assaulted him in Minsk on November 11. The incident reportedly took place when the assailants arrived at the Square of Change and removed white and red ribbons triggering scuffles between residents and assailants. Bandarenka was abducted and taken to Tsentralny district police, where he spent two hours before being hospitalized. Thousands gathered in Minsk to mourn Bandarenka’s death on November 12. The Interior Ministry denied responsibility for his death, claiming he was killed due to injuries received in the scuffles with civilians.

That Bandarenka was taken to the district police station following his abduction seemingly indicates that the attack was likely perpetrated by the pro-government forces, with the involvement of local police. It additionally highlights the extent of violence and human rights violations being perpetrated by President Alexander Lukashenko’s government amid the crackdown on the ongoing anti-government protests. The incident will prompt increased criticism by foreign governments and international human rights organizations while leading to the intensification of the protest movement on the domestic front in the near-term.   

 

Belgium & Denmark: Belgium expels Danish far-right activists, bans their entry on November 12; highlights firm stance against extremism

Belgium reportedly expelled five Danish far-right activists and banned their entry for a year over their plans to burn a Quran in the Muslim-dominated district of Molenbeek-Saint-Jean in Brussels on November 12. The activists are allegedly associates of Rasmus Paludan, the founder of the Danish far-right Stram Kurs party. Meanwhile, Molenbeek has prohibited the entry of Paludan. Paludan had sent a request to the Belgian Embassy in Denmark to organize the demonstration following the militant attacks in France. He was previously expelled from France and prohibited entry into Sweden following requests to organize similar demonstrations. 

The incident continues to highlight the far-right capitalizing on the increased polarization in Europe over recent militant incidents by organizing anti-Islam demonstrations and propagating anti-Islam rhetoric. Given that the burning of a Quran prompted violent protests in Sweden, there is an increased likelihood of such incidents causing unrest in other countries. With this, as evidenced in the firm stance by the aforementioned countries to prevent far-right unrest, countries are likely to continue strengthening efforts to mitigate both forms of extremism simultaneously. 

 

British Virgin Islands (UK): 2.35 tonnes of cocaine seized in largest bust on November 11; highlights change in tactics amid COVID-19

A covert operation in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) led to the discovery of 2.35 tonnes of cocaine on November 11. The seizure has been estimated to have a street value of more than 250 million USD. The Royal Police Force announced that this drug bust was the largest in the history of the BVI and that more arrests are likely in the future.

This seizure highlights the COVID-19-induced change in drug trafficking tactics, in that the cocaine haul had to be transported by land vehicles instead of the usual boat because of the BVI nighttime curfew, which prohibits the movement of boats at night. The large quantity of the seizure likely alludes to the traffickers taking a high risk on a one-time haul in an attempt to regain lost income. That the seizure took place at the residence of a police officer suggests the influence of corruption in the criminal act. Therefore, law enforcement agencies are likely to launch a large-scale investigation to determine all the actors involved in the trafficking attempt.

 

Germany: 12 charged in alleged far-right militant plot on November 12; highlights level of threat posed by far-right

Prosecutors have charged 12 members of the far-right “Gruppe S” with “terrorism” and weapons law violations. The group planned “a civil-war-like situation” by attacking politicians, asylum seekers, and Muslims. The suspects have been in custody since February 14 following raids across six states. According to older reports, they planned to emulate the 2019 Christchurch attacks in New Zealand. A suspect in Poland arrested in September 2019 had reportedly maintained contacts with Gruppe S. Authorities had discovered  1.2 kgs of explosive material in his possession. 

With a series of related demonstrations being held across Germany in recent weeks, the aforementioned incident reiterates the strong presence of the far-right Germany. The aforementioned plot highlights the level of threat posed by such groups to political leaders and the Muslim population. Further, the fact that the group was in contact with a radical in Poland reiterates the cross-border collaboration of the far-right in procuring materials, in addition to recruitment and expansion. With anti-Islam sentiments being elevated due to recent attacks across Western Europe, authorities are likely to carry out further large-scale operations.    

 

Russia & UK: Aeroflot executive in UK arrested on treason charges on November 13; unlikely to alter diplomatic relations

On November 13, Russian authorities detained a London-based Aeroflot executive, Dmitry Fedotkin, on suspicions of trading state secrets with the UK. Fedotkin is accused of passing information related to Russia’s social and political situation to the UK’s foreign intelligence service. Fedotkin has reportedly been the airline’s station manager in the UK for the past five years. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison. 

Despite the limited details available on the arrest, the aforementioned development is consistent with Russia’s domestic national security policies. This is supported by the fact that the Federal Security Service (FSB) is known to periodically detain soldiers, state employees, and other individuals linked to the state or prominent companies on suspicions of treason, last seen on October 6 with the arrest of a military serviceman on grounds of passing sensitive information to Estonia. As such, the arrest may spark a review of other Aeroflot employees based in the UK. Regardless, the arrest is not expected to significantly change Russia-UK diplomatic relations, which are already strained. 

 

Switzerland: Two arrested, including armed suspect after police shootout in Biel on November 12; incident unlikely to be militant attack

As per November 12 reports, a suspect armed with a knife was reportedly shot and arrested by police at Quai du Bas in the town of Biel. A police operation was launched and multiple shots were fired during the evening time (local time) with reports suggesting at least two people being injured in gunfire. Police later clarified that the suspect has been detained in connection with a homicide reported on November 11 in a residence in the municipality of Lengnau. On November 13, a second suspect was arrested in connection to the Biel incident. No further details have been released as of writing.

Based on known information, it is unlikely that the incident was a militant attack. That the arrest was carried out in connection to a homicide and authorities have not alluded to a militant motive supports this. The incident, however, reiterates the fears of lone-wolf attacks amid the heightened threat of Islamist militancy across Europe, especially considering two suspects were arrested in the town of Winterthur over alleged links to the militant attacks in Vienna on November 2.

 

Notable Dates

November 15

  • Austria: St. Leopold Day
  • Brazil: Republic Day

 

November 16

  • Colombia: Cartagena Independence Day
  • Mexico: Protests in Cancun and Chetumal
  • Mexico: Revolution Day

 

November 17 

  • Czech Republic: Freedom and Democracy Day
  • Greece: Anti-government protest in Athens
  • Slovakia: Anti-government protest in Bratislava
  • Slovakia: Freedom and Democracy Day

 

November 18

  • Croatia: Remembrance Day for Homeland War Victims 
  • Haiti: Battle and Armed Forces Day 
  • Latvia: Proclamation of the Republic 

 

November 21

  • Germany: Protest in Berlin
  • Mexico: Protest in Mexico City

 

November 23

  • Argentina: National Sovereignty Holiday

 

November 25

  • Suriname: Republic Day

 

November 26

  • USA: Thanksgiving Day

 

November 27

  • Turks and Caicos Islands: National Day of Thanksgiving

 

November 28

  • Albania: Independence Day
  • Belgium: Protest in Brussels
  • Panama: Independence Day
  • UK: Protest in London

The following report reviews current events in the Europe and the Americas region and their possible effect on business continuity and security.

Highlights of the Day

Americas

  • Americas: Tropical Storm Iota to strengthen into Hurricane, affect Central American countries on November 16; remain cognizant of updates
  • Belize: Opposition leader John Briceno elected Prime Minister on November 12; significant win for PUP after 12 years of status quo
  • Mexico: Multiple demonstrations against police brutality to be held from 14:00 (local time) in Cancun on November 15; maintain vigilance

 

Europe

  • Belarus: Protester dies after assault by group of masked individuals in Minsk on November 11; likely perpetrated by pro-government forces 
  • Moldova: Second round of presidential elections to be held on November 15; allot for disruptions
  • Switzerland: Two arrested, including armed suspect after police shootout in Biel on November 12; incident unlikely to be militant attack

 

Americas Actionable Items

Americas: Tightened restrictions in place due to rising COVID-19 cases in region, as per November 14 reports; remain cognizant of updates

The ban on foreign nationals entering Brazil via land and maritime borders is extended through December 12. The restrictions apply to all non-residential foreign nationals. However, Brazilian citizens and their close family members, permanent residents, foreign government workers, people traveling for trade and humanitarian purposes are permitted to cross the border. In Canada, Ontario released its new color-coded system and added more regions into the ‘red zone’. The list of regions and restrictions is available here. From November 23, foreigners not residing in Chile are allowed to enter the country for tourism, however, they are required to present a negative RT-PCR test taken not more than 72 hours prior to the flight. Between November 23-December 7, all travelers from high-risk countries, as published weekly by the World Health Organization (WHO), into Chile will be subject to mandatory quarantine even if they have a negative test. In the US, North Dakota made the use of facemasks when indoors in businesses and public spaces, and outdoor settings where social distancing cannot be maintained mandatory until at least December 13.

Those operating or residing in the Americas on November 14 and the coming days are advised to remain cognizant of authorities’ instructions regarding quarantines and health procedures.

 

Americas: Tropical Storm Iota to strengthen into Hurricane, affect Central American countries on November 16; remain cognizant of updates

On November 14, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) released an advisory warning that Tropical Storm Iota could strengthen into a major hurricane and affect multiple countries in Central America by November 16. The NHC said that Iota would make landfall in northern Nicaragua or eastern Honduras on November 16. Heavy rainfall is expected to affect Nicaragua and Honduras, and possibly produce accumulations up to 75-150 mm in Costa Rica, northern Colombia, Guatemala, Belize, Panama, and El Salvador over the coming days. The NHC further warns that the risk of flooding and landslides across countries in the region cannot be ruled out. Authorities are carrying out evacuations in Sula Valley in Honduras. The US embassy in Guatemala issued an alert for Iota, warning of heavy rain in the eastern and east-central areas of the country.

Those operating or residing in the aforementioned regions on November 14 and over the coming days are advised to remain abreast of local authorities’ updates on weather-related risks. 

 

Mexico: Multiple demonstrations against police brutality to be held from 14:00 (local time) in Cancun on November 15; maintain vigilance

Multiple protests against police brutality are planned to be held in Cancun on November 15. Protestors are expected to gather from 14:00 (local time) in front of the Municipal Government Palace. Another demonstration is scheduled to be held at the same location from 17:00. The protests follow a series of demonstrations held against police brutality recently in Cancun and other major urban centers in Mexico after police shot at demonstrators protesting against local femicide on November 9 in Cancun.

Based on precedent and the mobilization capacity of the groups involved, the protest in Cancun on November 15 is expected to see turnout in mid-to-high thousands. The demonstration contains a heightened potential for unrest in the form of clashes between police and protesters, with security forces likely to use forcible dispersal methods, including tear gas, water cannons, and conducting mass arrests. As such, a bolstered presence of security officials is expected to be deployed in the vicinity of the protest. Significant travel disruptions are expected from the afternoon hours onwards, especially in the vicinity of Municipal Government Palace.

Those operating or residing in Cancun on November 15 are advised to maintain vigilance and allot for disruptions arising due to the slated protests.

 

USA: Far-right groups, NRA members to stage counter-protest to BLM rally at Dublin City Hall, CA on November 15; avoid nonessential travel

On November 15, far-right groups such as the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, as well as members of the National Rifle Association (NRA) will reportedly stage a protest against a planned Black Lives Matter (BLM) rally at the Dublin City Hall, CA. Organizers have allegedly told attendees to show up with vests and helmets owing to the possibility of violence.

The combined turnouts for both rallies will likely be in the low-to-mid hundreds. Given the heightened sentiments surrounding the recent Presidential elections and that organizers anticipate violence, the potential for unrest among opposing groups and with the deployed security forces remains high, with forcible dispersal measures and arrests liable to be witnessed. Associated travel disruptions can be anticipated in the vicinity. 

Those operating or residing in Dublin, CA on November 15 are advised to avoid nonessential travel in the vicinity of the City Hall due to the potential for unrest.

 

Americas Notable Events

Belize: Opposition leader John Briceno elected Prime Minister on November 12; significant win for PUP after 12 years of status quo

Opposition leader of the People’s United Party (PUP), John Briceno, was sworn in as Prime Minister on November 12, with the party sweeping 26 of the 31 seats in the general elections. Briceno defeated Patrick Faber of the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP), marking an opposition win after three successive terms. The PUP ran on its “Plan Belize”, promising to stimulate the economy in the aftermath of the pandemic.

The victory was likely brought on by criticism of the UDP’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and prevailing anti-government sentiments, after UDP’s preferred successor, former Minister of Security John Saldivar, was accused of corruption by US authorities. Further, the win can be seen through the lens of a wave of opposition wins in smaller South and Central American countries such as Guyana and Suriname, highlighting the anti-establishment sentiments pervading through the region. It remains unclear whether Plan Belize will be seen as a success, given that several analysts have criticized the economic policies and proposed tax reforms, potentially leading to a stumbling block for the PUP in its first few months.

 

Canada: Hoax prompts major police response in Montreal, QC gaming company office on November 3; suspect likely intended to cause disruptions

On November 13, a call to police, since deemed a hoax, prompted a major police operation in Montreal, Quebec in the vicinity of the offices of a gaming company. Specialized tactical officers were observed evacuating the building, but no threat was ever detected and no injuries were reported. Initial reports of the incident stated that there was a hostage situation underway. The details of the hoax remain unclear.

Given that employees of the gaming company were seen barricading themselves on the roof of the building, and armed police units responded to the area, it seems likely that the initial reports of a hostage situation were unverified and a result of misinformation. Although the details remain unclear as of writing, since no active threat was identified upon investigation, it remains possible that the hoax call was prompted by an individual intending to generate fear and significant disruptions to business and travel. Investigations regarding the source of the call and the false reports of a hostage-taking are expected to continue, with newly released information likely in the coming days.

 

Venezuela: One officer dead in shooting between CICPC, PNB officers in Maracaibo on November 12; likely to raise criticism of security units

Reports indicate that a shootout between officers Cuerpo de Investigaciones Cientaficas, Penales y Criminalisticas (CICPC) and Policia Nacional Bolivariana (PNB) security units resulted in the death of one officer in the Maracaibo city of Zulia on November 12. The shooting occurred when employees of a gas station first let PNB officers fill the tanks of their vehicles, which led to an altercation with a CIPC officer, who accused the PNB of cutting through the line. Sources also claim that the CIPC officer who fired the shot was inebriated at the time of the incident. 

In addition to highlighting a lack of understanding amongst different security units in the country, the incident highlights violence within the security forces, who have been accused of brutality on several occasions. In addition, the fact that the CICP officer was inebriated is likely to raise severe criticism of the security unit. While the shootout did not result in civilian casualties, there nonetheless remains a threat of such confrontations injuring onlookers. Further, the incident continues to highlight unrest resulting from the ongoing gasoline shortages.

 

Europe Actionable Items

Europe: Countries tightened domestic restrictions as COVID-19 cases spike in region on November 14; remain cognizant of authorities’ updates

From November 23, inbound travelers to the Canary Islands from regions deemed as high-risk will be required to present proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of travel. In Kosovo, an overnight curfew for businesses is in place from 19:00 to 05:00 (local time) in the cities of Pristina, Prizren, Peja, Podujeva, Gjakova, Ferizaj, and  Gjilan until further notice. In Montenegro, all nonessential inter-municipal travel is prohibited during the weekends. The government has announced a nationwide curfew from November 15 until at least December 1 between 21:00-05:00 (local time). Romania extended the country’s state of alert due to the COVID-19 pandemic until December 15. In Spain, the health ministry announced that from November 23, authorities would demand travelers arriving in the country from high-risk countries to present a negative PCR test carried out 72 hours before entry. Those found to be in violation of the rule could face a fine of 6,000 EUR. The UK added eight destinations to the quarantine-free list, including Bahrain, Chile, Cambodia, Iceland, and Laos among others. 

Those operating or residing in Europe on November 14 and the coming days are advised to remain cognizant of authorities’ instructions regarding quarantines, travel restrictions, and health procedures.

 

France: Yellow Vests activists to stage protest in Lille at Place de la Republique at 13:00 (local time) on November 14; maintain vigilance

On November 14, activists associated with the Yellow Vests (YV) movement are slated to stage a protest in Lille at the Place de la Republique at 13:00 (local time). Protesters intend to march through the city following the initial gatherings, however, details on the route and the end location remain unconfirmed at this time. 

Based on precedent, the protest carries with it a latent potential for unrest. Protesters could clash with security forces, who may resort to tear gas or conducting arrests to disperse crowds. As such, a bolstered police presence is likely to be deployed in the vicinity of Place de la Republique. Disruptions to vehicular and pedestrian traffic may be experienced during the afternoon hours. 

Those operating or residing in Lille on November 14 are advised to maintain vigilance in the vicinity of the slated protest due to the potential for unrest. 

 

Moldova: Second round of presidential elections to be held on November 15; allot for disruptions

The runoff second round of the 2020 presidential elections have been scheduled for November 15. Voters will choose between incumbent Igor Dodon of pro-Russian Partidul Socialistilor din Republica Moldova (PSRM) and Maia Sandu of pro-EU Partidul Actiune si Solidaritate (PAS). Polling stations will remain open from 07:00-21:00 (local time). Sandu led the first round with 36 percent votes, followed by Dodon with 32 and Our Party’s Renato Usatii with 16. 

Given that the race was closely contested in the first round, the votes of Usatii’s supporters are likely to play a decisive role in the runoff elections. While Usatii has not endorsed Sandu publicly thus far, given that he has criticized Dodon on several occasions accusing him of accepting illegal funding for his campaign from Russia, there remains a likelihood of his supporters’ votes being cast in favor of Sandu. Further, with more polling stations installed abroad, the Western diaspora, which is largely in favor of Sandu, may have a larger turnout on November 15. As such, increased security and traffic disruptions can be expected near polling stations. 

Those operating or residing in Moldova on November 15 are advised to allot for disruptions to traffic in the vicinity of all polling stations for the duration of the voting process. 

 

Europe Notable Events

Belarus: Protester dies after assault by group of masked individuals in Minsk on November 11; likely perpetrated by pro-government forces 

Raman Bandarenka, an anti-government protester died after masked individuals allegedly kidnapped and assaulted him in Minsk on November 11. The incident reportedly took place when the assailants arrived at the Square of Change and removed white and red ribbons triggering scuffles between residents and assailants. Bandarenka was abducted and taken to Tsentralny district police, where he spent two hours before being hospitalized. Thousands gathered in Minsk to mourn Bandarenka’s death on November 12. The Interior Ministry denied responsibility for his death, claiming he was killed due to injuries received in the scuffles with civilians.

That Bandarenka was taken to the district police station following his abduction seemingly indicates that the attack was likely perpetrated by the pro-government forces, with the involvement of local police. It additionally highlights the extent of violence and human rights violations being perpetrated by President Alexander Lukashenko’s government amid the crackdown on the ongoing anti-government protests. The incident will prompt increased criticism by foreign governments and international human rights organizations while leading to the intensification of the protest movement on the domestic front in the near-term.   

 

Belgium & Denmark: Belgium expels Danish far-right activists, bans their entry on November 12; highlights firm stance against extremism

Belgium reportedly expelled five Danish far-right activists and banned their entry for a year over their plans to burn a Quran in the Muslim-dominated district of Molenbeek-Saint-Jean in Brussels on November 12. The activists are allegedly associates of Rasmus Paludan, the founder of the Danish far-right Stram Kurs party. Meanwhile, Molenbeek has prohibited the entry of Paludan. Paludan had sent a request to the Belgian Embassy in Denmark to organize the demonstration following the militant attacks in France. He was previously expelled from France and prohibited entry into Sweden following requests to organize similar demonstrations. 

The incident continues to highlight the far-right capitalizing on the increased polarization in Europe over recent militant incidents by organizing anti-Islam demonstrations and propagating anti-Islam rhetoric. Given that the burning of a Quran prompted violent protests in Sweden, there is an increased likelihood of such incidents causing unrest in other countries. With this, as evidenced in the firm stance by the aforementioned countries to prevent far-right unrest, countries are likely to continue strengthening efforts to mitigate both forms of extremism simultaneously. 

 

British Virgin Islands (UK): 2.35 tonnes of cocaine seized in largest bust on November 11; highlights change in tactics amid COVID-19

A covert operation in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) led to the discovery of 2.35 tonnes of cocaine on November 11. The seizure has been estimated to have a street value of more than 250 million USD. The Royal Police Force announced that this drug bust was the largest in the history of the BVI and that more arrests are likely in the future.

This seizure highlights the COVID-19-induced change in drug trafficking tactics, in that the cocaine haul had to be transported by land vehicles instead of the usual boat because of the BVI nighttime curfew, which prohibits the movement of boats at night. The large quantity of the seizure likely alludes to the traffickers taking a high risk on a one-time haul in an attempt to regain lost income. That the seizure took place at the residence of a police officer suggests the influence of corruption in the criminal act. Therefore, law enforcement agencies are likely to launch a large-scale investigation to determine all the actors involved in the trafficking attempt.

 

Germany: 12 charged in alleged far-right militant plot on November 12; highlights level of threat posed by far-right

Prosecutors have charged 12 members of the far-right “Gruppe S” with “terrorism” and weapons law violations. The group planned “a civil-war-like situation” by attacking politicians, asylum seekers, and Muslims. The suspects have been in custody since February 14 following raids across six states. According to older reports, they planned to emulate the 2019 Christchurch attacks in New Zealand. A suspect in Poland arrested in September 2019 had reportedly maintained contacts with Gruppe S. Authorities had discovered  1.2 kgs of explosive material in his possession. 

With a series of related demonstrations being held across Germany in recent weeks, the aforementioned incident reiterates the strong presence of the far-right Germany. The aforementioned plot highlights the level of threat posed by such groups to political leaders and the Muslim population. Further, the fact that the group was in contact with a radical in Poland reiterates the cross-border collaboration of the far-right in procuring materials, in addition to recruitment and expansion. With anti-Islam sentiments being elevated due to recent attacks across Western Europe, authorities are likely to carry out further large-scale operations.    

 

Russia & UK: Aeroflot executive in UK arrested on treason charges on November 13; unlikely to alter diplomatic relations

On November 13, Russian authorities detained a London-based Aeroflot executive, Dmitry Fedotkin, on suspicions of trading state secrets with the UK. Fedotkin is accused of passing information related to Russia’s social and political situation to the UK’s foreign intelligence service. Fedotkin has reportedly been the airline’s station manager in the UK for the past five years. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison. 

Despite the limited details available on the arrest, the aforementioned development is consistent with Russia’s domestic national security policies. This is supported by the fact that the Federal Security Service (FSB) is known to periodically detain soldiers, state employees, and other individuals linked to the state or prominent companies on suspicions of treason, last seen on October 6 with the arrest of a military serviceman on grounds of passing sensitive information to Estonia. As such, the arrest may spark a review of other Aeroflot employees based in the UK. Regardless, the arrest is not expected to significantly change Russia-UK diplomatic relations, which are already strained. 

 

Switzerland: Two arrested, including armed suspect after police shootout in Biel on November 12; incident unlikely to be militant attack

As per November 12 reports, a suspect armed with a knife was reportedly shot and arrested by police at Quai du Bas in the town of Biel. A police operation was launched and multiple shots were fired during the evening time (local time) with reports suggesting at least two people being injured in gunfire. Police later clarified that the suspect has been detained in connection with a homicide reported on November 11 in a residence in the municipality of Lengnau. On November 13, a second suspect was arrested in connection to the Biel incident. No further details have been released as of writing.

Based on known information, it is unlikely that the incident was a militant attack. That the arrest was carried out in connection to a homicide and authorities have not alluded to a militant motive supports this. The incident, however, reiterates the fears of lone-wolf attacks amid the heightened threat of Islamist militancy across Europe, especially considering two suspects were arrested in the town of Winterthur over alleged links to the militant attacks in Vienna on November 2.

 

Notable Dates

November 15

  • Austria: St. Leopold Day
  • Brazil: Republic Day

 

November 16

  • Colombia: Cartagena Independence Day
  • Mexico: Protests in Cancun and Chetumal
  • Mexico: Revolution Day

 

November 17 

  • Czech Republic: Freedom and Democracy Day
  • Greece: Anti-government protest in Athens
  • Slovakia: Anti-government protest in Bratislava
  • Slovakia: Freedom and Democracy Day

 

November 18

  • Croatia: Remembrance Day for Homeland War Victims 
  • Haiti: Battle and Armed Forces Day 
  • Latvia: Proclamation of the Republic 

 

November 21

  • Germany: Protest in Berlin
  • Mexico: Protest in Mexico City

 

November 23

  • Argentina: National Sovereignty Holiday

 

November 25

  • Suriname: Republic Day

 

November 26

  • USA: Thanksgiving Day

 

November 27

  • Turks and Caicos Islands: National Day of Thanksgiving

 

November 28

  • Albania: Independence Day
  • Belgium: Protest in Brussels
  • Panama: Independence Day
  • UK: Protest in London