Monday, August 06, 2007

Lukashenko wants to bleach internet "sewer"

Dictator Aleksandr Lukashenko of Belarus says that he will be cracking down on unregulated internet usage in Belarus, in a move pro-democracy advocates say may be a precursor to a wider crackdown on anti-government speech. At present, the internet is the only source for independent news in Belarus, with all newspapers, radio and television produced and edited by government officials. Lukashenko called the state of online news about Belarus "anarchy", and vowed to clean it up, saying, "we cannot allow this great technical success by humankind to become a news sewer."

It is difficult to imagine how Belarus could add even more restrictions on domestic internet users. At present, internet cafe owners are required to report visits of anti-government websites to the police, and people caught publishing any material deemed insulting to the state or Lukashenko himself are targeted for arrest. Belarus does not, however, appear to have a centralized system of internet censorship akin to the infamous Great Firewall of China.