Europe's last Stalinist state could fine citizens half their salary for visiting foreign websites in a domestic clamp-down on the internet. The Republic of Belarus will this week introduce a law that imposes restrictions on visiting and/or using foreign websites by Belarus citizens and residents. Violation is punishable by fines …
Well, maybe. We'll see.
"2011 was a bad year for dictators, with the Arab uprising taking out regimes in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya".
Well maybe. Maybe not. We'll see whether democratic institutions take root, or if one dictator and his authoritarian elite is simply replaced by a new dictator and his authoritarian elite.
Pessimism is always appropriate.
Still a bad year for those on the losing side whose regimes were indeed clearly taken out.
I'm reading this article from Minsk.. let me exit the page before the fine eats up the rest of my earnings as my 256K Internet connection consumes most of it...
How can the average wage only be $250 but the nominal GDP per capita of the country around $6k?
It's almost like someone at the top is syphoning billions out of the economy, dictators never do that, right?.
It is a communist state. The government owns everything and the prices are controlled. There is no unemployment, just massive underemployment. Minsk was a major industrial area but making products 30 years out of date (lorries, tractors, watches etc.) now the country exports mostly timber - to Russia who pay peanuts and sell them paper and things made of wood. Before the place went totally bonkers industrialists offered to build paper mills and factories, but that did not please the party. Minsk is a very depressing place.
Is someone who earns $208 a year going to buy anything from Amazon anyway?
I get the impression...
...that the last surviving Communist State is defecating masonry at the thought of it's deprived collective citizenry discovering that there's a far more interesting world beyond their borders, than their totalitarian state is letting on.
Either that, or they want to ensure that the depraved state of recycled 1960s JCB tractor porn isn't going to get any worse *veg*
Isn't it about time that the free countries of the world funded a gigantic, orbiting DLP type billboard, where we could display messages for people without internet or other access to a free press?
Not only would this be awesome, annoying for astronomers and expensive, but it'd be fun too.
... enough nasty mean dictators have missiles that can reach it.
It would only take a small orbital disrupting impact and the resulting debris to kill the thing stone dead.
A law that allows them to cut off access to any foreign web site at the whim of an unelected official.
Who do they think they are - the RIAA ?
"In Soviet Russia..."
There's an upside: this moustached idiot dictator and his regime is literally on the brink of...
...bankruptcy: their foreign currency reserves by late Fall depleted to $2-3B and that's already including the money they "borrowed" from their few 'commercial' banks (the "Fed" only held a billion or so.)
Inflation is around 300-400%, everybody relies on the state stipend but the regime is only raising salaries by 20-30%: http://news.belta.by/en/main_news?id=670329
Simply there's no money to pay the bills and goods are becoming more and more scarce
IMF already said no, no more help unless they start changing the system.
Now all they are left with is Russia's debatable willingness to prop up the regime any further - not like Putin is without problems, ahem - and even tighter control of the flow of information aka this new law.
It's impossible to run a country like that for long, I think it's time to prepare for the fall of this ugly-looking Stalinist clown called Lukashenko, 2012 will finally bring this idiot down - good riddance; I hope his people will get the chance to put this scumbag on trial...
You're an optimist.
Look at Kim Jong foo's caveman kingdom.
Been running from reality for a long time. Maybe it will eventually fold, but it makes a heck of a pile of misery on the way.
And the predictable outcome...
...is that all the legitimate foreign sites, like Windows Update, will withdraw leaving the field open exclusively to purveyors of malware.
(At least, that's the net-related outcome. I imagine the political outcome is less easy to predict.)
One question though. Wouldn't it be easier just to cut the wires at the border? Their chosen method of censorship sounds like they've deliberately left things so that it is possible to fall foul of the new law and incur that fine. Almost as though the whole thing is a rather desparate money-grabbing venture on the part of the authorities rather than a security clamp-down.
Belarus for past decade from outside seemed to be a test platform for authoritarian laws, many later also introduced in the Russia.
Considering that it is already de facto part of Russia, it is also logical. (Russia seem to enjoy the fact that Belarus is de jure independent, since they can distantiate themselves from it whenever they wish.)
Politically, I do not see anything happening. Or rather: whatever would happen, we will not see a single trace of it. Lots of minor things are happening - but nothing is major. For Lukashenko has taken care of everything (and everyone) major decade ago.
Lukashenko has vast experience in eliminating potential opponents. That is countered by seemingly submissive nature of Belarusians. Do not forget: Belarus for many centuries was occupied interchangeably by Poland of Russia (put Polnish and Russian history books side by side and enjoy the disparities both claiming Belarus being part of their own state). The ages of oppressions and repressions created this unique type of character which on outside doesn't care, but on inside are highly independent survivalist.
So, yeah, we do not care, we do no object. But probably most impacted have already figured ways around.
"on outside doesn't care, but on inside are highly independent survivalist."
Great post, mate! Being from Belarus myself - I would say Europe should take care of this before they all turn into Partisans and even bloody terarists! This is not a joke - you guys need to look into it.
What exactly was banned? Why was it banned?
Sounds like speech and politically-dangerous stuff was NOT banned. Foreign e-commerce (ie, importing) was banned. Why? Perhaps to keep more foreign reserves inside the country.
Dear Citizens of Belarus
Dear citizens from Belarus, I want to help you and provide you with a way to be able to
browse any web sites you want when this law will come in force. I have a solution for you.
All you need to do is email me - doctor.ventures at gmail dot com
Паважаныя грамадзяне з Беларусі, я хачу дапамагчы вам і даць Вам спосаб, каб мець магчымасць
праглядаць любыя вэб-сайты, якія вы хочаце, калі гэты закон уступіць у сілу. У мяне ёсць для вас рашэнне.
Усё, што вам трэба зрабіць, гэта, напішыце мне - doctor.ventures на Gmail кропка com
I didn't know El Reg had so many visitors from Belarus...