After the recent election in Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, the incumbent president, declared victory with 80% of the vote—and citizens took to the streets to protest what they believe was a rigged election.
On top of the civil unrest, Twitter’s official public policy account is reporting that the Eastern European country is “blocking and throttling” the social media service. “Internet shutdowns are hugely harmful. They fundamentally violate basic human rights & the principles of the #OpenInternet,” the tweet reads.
Blocking is self-explanatory, and although throttling is typically temporary, such tactics are sometimes used to control access to data that comes through an API.
Twitter isn’t the only platform experiencing this. According to a report in Engadget, authorities in Belarus also disrupted access to some media sites and VPNs. “NetBlocks, an organization that monitors internet freedom, also tweeted that Belarus had been ‘largely offline’ since Sunday,” the report states. “Local journalists have reported that their VPNs are blocked as well.”
Nikolai Kvantaliani, facilitator to Belarus for the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, told CyberNews: “We have only one main internet provider. On certain websites, encrypted traffic was blocked. Also, the sites that allow users to register their votes were blocked.”
He went on to say that only Telegram was available, but even that service was severely slowed, which made it challenging to see video or get live updates from the protests.
Lukashenko’s challenger, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, told reporters Monday that she rejects the results of the election and considers herself the winner.