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In the morning, the independent monitoring site Zubr.in became unavailable. It looks like the IP of the webpage has been blocked. The creators of the platform offer users to write reports of electoral law violations via Telegram-bot @zubr_assist_bot.
Other users report low speed of file uploads to Telegram without proxy services. Websites such as YouTube, Google, VPN services work poorly. Moreover, not only mobile Internet users but also Beltelecom broadband users have problem with Internet access. Reports of Internet interruptions come from all regions of Belarus.
Observers believe that the Internet in Belarus can be turned off altogether. “I think so, most likely it will be done temporarily and in a targeted way (but we cannot be 100% sure). And it will be harder to block the Internet in Belarus than in China, but easier than in Russia,” Mikhail Klimarau, Executive Director of the non-profit organization Internet Protection Society, told TUT.by.
MINSK, Belarus (AP) — After 26 years in office, the authoritarian leader of Belarus is facing the toughest challenge yet as he runs for a sixth term.
Discontent over a worsening economy and the government's dismissive response to the coronavirus pandemic has helped fuel the country's largest opposition rallies since Alexander Lukashenko became its first and only elected president following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Rumblings among the ruling elite and a bitter rift with Russia, Belarus's main sponsor and ally, compound the reelection challenge facing the 65-year-old former state farm director on Sunday.
A heavy cloak of security descended over the capital, Minsk, where internet service was cut off, phones worked only sporadically and soldiers and riot police cordoned off the central square and the main public buildings. Long before the results were announced, the opposition, predicting that the count would be illegitimate, had called for protests on Sunday night.
The result, as in previous elections, was never in any real doubt: Mr. Lukashenko controls vote counting, a vast security apparatus and a noisy state media machine unwavering in its support for him and contempt for his rivals. Facing the biggest outpouring of dissent during his 26 years of autocratic rule, he hoped to return his restive country to the predictable political rhythms that have kept him in power.
“Nothing will get out of control. This I guarantee,” Mr. Lukashenko said on Sunday, warning that anyone seeking to upset stability “will receive an immediate response from me.”
The Belarus military is deploying additional troops to the border with Russia over invasion concerns.
The Novaya Gazeta newspaper has shared a short video showing a convoy of military trucks and armored vehicles moving towards the Russian border.
Official Minsk fears that Russia may take advantage of the instability in the country and carry out the Ukrainian scenario to occupy part of the territories ahead of August’s presidential election.
The state-controlled Belta news agency said last week that Belarus has arrested dozens of Russian mercenaries after receiving information that more than 200 fighters had entered the country to destabilize it before a presidential election. The mercenaries worked for Wagner, Russia’s best-known private military contractor.