The activists call themselves Belarus Cyber Partisans and have been infiltrating government websites and databases for months to spread information on police abuse and repression
the protests broke out last year in Belarus No.They have not yet had the hoped-for outcome of overthrowing the authoritarian governo of President Alexander Lukashenko, in office since the creation of the role in 1994, and also thanks to the violent repression of the state they have cooled, but they have not subsided. The streets of Minsk are no longer crowded with demonstrators as in the autumn of 2020, but there are now “cyber-partisans “.
Belarus Cyber Supporters is the name given to a group dthe 15 information technology experts (It) and cybersecurity who work in the country’s burgeoning technology sector and which for some months have been using their skills to infiltrate government sites, collect information and sabotage surveillance operations of the security forces. “What we want is stop violence and repression of the terrorist regime in Belarus and restore the country to democratic principles and the rule of law “he told the Mit Technology Review a spokesperson for the group, who requested anonymity for security reasons.
The first operations
The group has started taking action against some government websites such as act of protest last September, following the disputed elections in the country which confirmed Lukashenko as president. The president was accused of fraud. In response, for example, i Belarus Cyber Supporters have introduced themselves into the government-controlled news sites and posted videos showing scenes of acts of violence perpetrated by police officers.
The turning point in cyber warfare it came thanks to the support of another civil resistance group, called Bypol, that brings together former police officers who quit their jobs after the protests started and are now dealing with counter-information. Bypol instructed the activists on how to infiltrate government organizations and on the structure of public databases, in exchange for information on the abuses of the regime.
The hacktivist of Cyber Partisans publish the information they get on a Telegram channel, where they have 77 thousand subscribers. So far they have revealed evidence of crimes by the police, information showing that the regime has covered the true death rate for Covid-19 and recordings of orders to crack down on peaceful protests in a violent way. Activists also claim that they managed to hack dozens of government and police databases.
The latest discoveries
Their most recent operations have allowed activists to enter to drone footage who recorded the government repression to the detriment of the demonstrators in the square last year and al cell phone database spied on of the Ministry of the Interior. They also had access to emergency services audio recordings, as well as video from roadside surveillance cameras and solitary confinement cells.
Data released by the group in recent weeks includes lists of suspected police informants, personal information on senior officials and spies collaborating with the Lukashenko regime, footage of detention centers and records captured by the government interception system.
Cyber Partisan say their intention is to undermine the regime at all levels: “Paralyze as much as possible the regime’s security forces, to sabotage the regime’s weak points in infrastructure and provide protection to demonstrators “.
The operations also have a second purpose, that of show the weakness of the system, reassuring Lukashenko’s opponents that the government is not invincible. With the goal, like Bloomberg reports, to bring about the overthrow of the government.
Technology in Minsk
The Belarusian technology sector, which in a district of Minsk counts dozens of companies and startups, was from the beginning among those most engaged in anti-government protests. Due to the repression, many of the workers were forced to emigrate or ended up in prison. The United Nations estimates that last year in Belarus at least 27 thousand people were arrested in response to protests.
Currently an international coalition of human rights organizations is investigating and documenting the torture and other human rights violations committed since the beginning of the protests to incriminate the Lukashenko regime. The audio and video evidence extrapolated by Cyber Partisans could have a significant weight.
Belarus is the latest case ofcommitment of hacktivist in political battles. During the Arab Spring of 2011, the Anonymous collective took some government websites offline Tunisia and Egypt. In 2016 in Ukraine a group that presents itself as the Cyber Alliance was formed to counter Russian aggression in the country.