Radio Free Europe's websites in Belarus under attack

By EDRi · May 7, 2008

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

Several Radio Free Europe websites were under a distributed denial of
service (DDoS) attack in the past week. The attacks started on 26 April
2008, the 22nd anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, primary
targeted at the Belarus Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) service
which was offering live coverage of a rally of protest organized in Minsk
against the plight of uncompensated victims and a government decision to
build a new nuclear plant.

Martins Zvaners, RFE spokesman, thinks that was the largest attack ever
experienced by RFE. At its peak, the DDoS attack was sending more than 50000
requests to the RFE sites, flooding its servers’ capacity and throwing them

Although there is no proof of who was behind the attacks, Zvaners pointed
his finger at the Belarus administration: “This started on the day of a
demonstration that they wanted no one to cover. They’ve never been real
happy with us. In an ongoing sense, they are always ‘jamming’ our signals.
We can’t say for certain who did it, but you look at the circumstances and
you can start to draw some possible inferences.”

US State Department spokeswoman Jessica Simon stated that it was the
Belarusian Government’s responsibility to stop such kind of attacks while
Nina Ognianova, the program coordinator for Europe and Central Asia at the
New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, said it was also the
responsibility of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to find and punish those
responsible with the attacks. “In Belarus especially, RFE/RL service is
significant now more than ever because Lukashenka’s regime has destroyed the
other independent and opposition broadcasters. (…) So we certainly are
very concerned about this short-lived but successful attacks” said

RFE issued a news release on 28 April following which the attacks
stopped and the sites went back online. According to Zvaners, RFE has now
taken protection measures against similar attacks.

During the three days of the attack, RFR/RL’s Belarus Service was supported
by 22 Belarusian sites that hosted its content. “Dear friends. We value your
solidarity and we promise to support any site that falls victim to such an
attack in the future. (…) Thanks to all of you for your support of
freedom” said Alyaksandr Lukashuk, director of RFE/RL’s Belarus Service, who
considers that the response to the attack was an example that could create a
precedent for future online “esprit de corps” among journalists and
pro-democracy advocates.

Belarus: RFE/RL Cites Online ‘Solidarity’ In Face Of Cyberattack

Chernobyl coverage blows up in Radio Free Europe’s face (29.04.2008)

DDoS attacks knocked Radio Free Europe off the Web (4.05.2008)

U.S. Denounces Attack On RFE/RL Websites (29.04.2008)