Belarusian authorities harass online opposition groups

By EDRi · September 12, 2012

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Deutsch: [Weißrussische Behörden drangsalieren Oppositionsgruppen im Internet |]

As elections in Belarus approach, independent or pro-opposition
journalists and Internet users are harassed by the Belarusian
authorities, pressured and even put to jail.

“The call for an election boycott by some opposition figures has joined
the long list of subjects that are off limits. Those who mention the
boycott, such as opposition groups on social networks, are immediately
sanctioned. It is illusory to talk of free elections in such a media
environment,” stated Reporters Without Borders.

As reported by the human rights group Viasna on 31 August, the mobile
phone company BelCel blocked access to the pro-opposition news websites
Charter97 and BelPartizan.

The State Security Committee arrested a series of moderators of online
communities who were interrogated and beaten, their apartments were
searched and their laptops confiscated. Pavel Yeutsikhiyeu, one of the
moderators of the “We’ve had enough of this Lukashenko” group on the
Russian social network VKontake, was sentenced by Minsk’s Kastrychnitski
district court on 31 August to five days in prison on a charge of
disturbing public order and Andrey Tkachou, the administrator of the
Only SHOS group, was sentenced to seven days in prison on the same
charge. The authorities also hacked into two online discussions groups
obtaining the names of their presumed moderators and administrators and
removed much of the content of these groups. The group “We’ve had enough
of this Lukashenko” is now controlled by the State Security Committee
after having been hacked, deleted and restored. The secret services do
not delete information from the community, but publish libel against
group’s administrators.

Also OSCE has again showed deep concern over the situation in Belarus.
“I have repeatedly called on Belarusian authorities to stop persecuting
journalists and bloggers. Unfortunately, recent detentions and searches
in Minsk and elsewhere in the country show continued efforts to muzzle
dissenting voices and clamp down on freedom of expression online,” said
the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatovic who
added: “The Belarusian authorities are using such charges to control
the media and Internet communities. The detentions are a strike against
freedom of expression and contravene OSCE commitments which Belarus has
pledged to uphold.”

Opposition journalists and cyber-dissidents hounded in run-up to
election (3.09.2012),43321.html

OSCE Press Release – OSCE media freedom representative concerned by
arrest of social media activists in Belarus (4.09.2012)

KGB continues crackdown on social network groups (4.09.2012)

Crackdown on social networks: interrogations, searches, arrests (31.08.2012)