Internet Blackout In Belarus! What’s Happening There?
On August 9, Internet users from Belarus began to report about mass failures in social networks. Almost all major resources did not work. Access to state and opposition Internet sites was limited, and popular messengers WhatsApp and Telegram were working with serious failures.
Internet and communication outages in Belarus were local. Still, restrictive measures led to failures in access not only to the online services in major cities of the Republic but also disrupted the normal operation of government agencies’ websites.
We’ve already written that Donald Trump wants to restrict access to Social Networks in America. However, the situation here is clearly more serious.
How did it all begin?
On August 9, 2020, in the Republic of Belarus were held Presidential elections. According to the official polls, the current President — Alexander Lukashenko, received 80.01% of the votes. The opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya received 10.01%.
According to independent polls, the situation looks the opposite: Svetlana Tikhanovskaya gained more than 80%, while Alexander Lukashenko gained about 10%. The same result was provided by foreign exit polling.
It should be noted that the Belarusian authorities have long been criticized for election fraud. The network has repeatedly appeared the video and audio recordings of the conversation of the chairmen of precinct commissions. They discussed how many votes for each candidate they would write in the final Protocol.
This year, the campaign has involved hundreds of independent observers who recorded gross violations of precinct commissions.
In addition, IT-specialists from Belarus created an alternative “Voice” platform, where everybody could anonymously send a photo of the ballot with a choice. More than 1 million people were registered on the platform. According to its results, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya received more than 80%.
3 days of Internet blackout
After the results were announced, peaceful protests began in Minsk and other Belarusian cities. People opposed the recognition of the election results.
It is worth noting that at the same time, there were problems with the Internet. Many sites and social networks were unavailable or blocked, and the VPN was not connected.
The only way to access the World Wide Web was a connection to a proxy. However, it also sometimes didn’t work or had a slow connection.
For three days, Belarusians were forced to stay in the information block. There was strict censorship on state TV channels, which did not allow stories about what was happening in the country. All the videos that covered this topic in any way accused foreign interference in the state affairs.
State-owned enterprises responsible for Internet connections claimed that foreign hackers launched a cyberattack on state servers and blocked Internet access.
Meanwhile, Telegram channels published the real situation of what is happening in Belarus. Ordinary citizens of the country called on the world community to pay attention to the authorities’ ongoing arbitrariness and security forces, who destroy Belarusian citizens both physically and mentally with impunity.
On August 12, the Internet has been returned to Belarus. But thousands of Belarusians started searching for various proxies, servers and tools to circumvent the Internet blocking in Belarus.
Ways to bypass blocking
The top tools were Proxies, various VPNs, Psiphon, and Utopia. The latter made it possible to communicate anonymously, create channels for discussing the latest news, and coordinate actions without Proxies and VPNs.
Utopia has become a great tool for monitoring the situation. Many Belarusians registered in the system without entering personal data. Therefore, the state authorities could not track their names and location. This made it possible to coordinate actions and participate in peaceful protests.
Also, it is a place without censorship at all. We’ve spoken about that in the article What Is The Issue With Internet Censorship.
In addition, Belarusians were able to draw the world community’s attention to what has been happening in the country. Elon Musk, Jared Leto, and others have already offered their help.