Speed Reads

belarus protests

How Belarus' 'booming' IT sector could turn the tide of election protests

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko reportedly likes to take credit for developing Belarus' "booming" information technology sector, although it was reportedly really championed by an opposition candidate, Valery Tsepkalo, who was disqualified from running and fled the country at the end of July. Fast forward a few weeks, and it appears Lukashenko may have incidentally boxed himself in by claiming responsibility.

The so-called "last dictator in Europe" is trying to squash protests that have ignited throughout the country following his disputed election victory against challenger Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who is now in Lithuania. Belarusian law enforcement authorities have been shown violently apprehending protesters, and the government cut off internet access to disrupt communication. But on Wednesday, more than 300 CEOs of IT companies and investors signed a letter demanding a new election as well as an end to state-sponsored violence. Otherwise, they claimed, they'll head elsewhere.

It's unclear if all those demands would be met by Minsk, but there's seemingly reason to believe the warning could at least force Lukashenko's hand in some capacity, given how he seems to be aware of the industry's importance to the country, which is already dealing with hefty amounts of emigration. Tim O'Donnell