When Belarusian dictator Aleksandr Lukashenko wanted to know what his citizens are doing on the internet, his rubber-stamp parliament created a special agency to monitor and control internet access in Belarus. For starters, technology providers are required to collect users’ personal data and profiles.
The decree went into law January of 2010 and orders internet service providers “to identify devices used to connect to the internet and compile data on those devices and the services provided” as published in the decree. In taking a page right out of the USA homeland security language the decree claims this is necessary “to ensure security of the citizens, society and the state.”
The government says that reasonable control is necessary. A government newspaper even warned the opposition not to use the internet to write “slanderous accusations” because as the paper says, with the internet those who speak against the government must remember that “they are not invisible men.”
Early last year President Lukashenko formed the Intelligence Analysis Center (OAC), a government agency tasked to regulate the kind of content acceptable for citizens to access and to monitor all internet traffic coming into and going out of Belarus.
Reporters Without Borders posted a message regarding the law on their website which said, “After placing most of the traditional media under its control, the regime is pursuing an offensive against new media.”
The dictator somehow failed to mention the internet in his New Year greeting to citizens at midnight on the eve of the New Year. But he did stress that Belarus had survived a troubling year in many respects. At one point it almost seemed that if possible he would like to replace Grandfather Frost when he said, As a President I have a unique mission – in these exciting festive moments I can drop in on your houses and wish you Happy New Year.
Grandfather Frost is doing a stellar job, your dictatorship. You can remain in Minsk. Please. For those who know the Dictator Lukashenko to be long-winded, especially when he has little to say, you can rest assured that this New Year’s greeting did not disappoint.
In several minutes, another page in the history of our country and people, the history of each of us will be turned. Three hundred sixty five lines of the old year of 2011 were written in one moment. But they comprised an infinite palette of our feelings, namely grieves and inspirations, misfortunes and joys, worries and hopes.
As a President I have a unique mission – in these exciting festive moments I can drop in on your houses and wish you Happy New Year. Perhaps, you have already evaluated the old year. For some the year was difficult, for others it was successful.
Today it does not matter what it was. It is our history of victories and failures, achievements and disappointments. We cannot correct or remake it. But we have to draw a lesson from this year.
We managed to prevent economic collapse and social discord, unemployment and phasing out social programs. We have withstood all problems.
In the face of all issues, we proved that we are a solid family, a single and truly great nation. We can and should be proud of it. I sincerely thank you for understanding and support, courage and optimism. I extend special thanks for your trust.
I am grateful to those who were selflessly working for the benefit of the country. I thank farmers for the rich harvest; workers and engineers, builders and heads of companies for energy and the spirit of enterprise; teachers, doctors, scientists, and the intellectuals for committed labor; servicemen for courage and the sense of duty.
I bow to the ground before our wonderful women whose care and kindness warms Belarusian homes. On the last days of the year I met with hundreds of children who need state support. I wished them Happy New Year and asked about their wishes. I was glad to hear the answer as they wanted me to say a few words about them, the future of our country, in my New Year address.
I promised them and I keep my word. At these very last moments of the year I want to address not only children but also Belarusian youth. Love your country, value and protect it from adversities and shocks. Do it because you will never have another Motherland.
It is this country that will warm you when you are cold and give you old water in the heat. You and your children will live in this land.
Dear countrymen, The period of human life on this fragile planet is very short. Yet, we have an opportunity to change the world and our Fatherland. We need only to choose how to live. Our way is to set the goal and do our best to achieve it. This is the fate of a strong and viable nation. Our top priority is to make Belarus strong and respected, turn it into a comfortable and safe house for all people. I am convinced that together we will accomplish this great goal.
You should be confident in your country doing its utmost to support each person and his family. However, we should bear in mind that nobody and nothing will bring us tranquility and bliss, except for us. Our life will depend on our work.
Time is the most important resource today. If we slow down our development or lose the rhythm, we may be lagging behind for years to come.
The strongest people will cross the finish line. And Belarusians should be among winners. We can do it.
We have a wonderful feature – we support each other. We have always been honest and have never betrayed our neighbors. We have solved all problems together, empathized with and helped each other. Let us treasure and take care of this quality.
Dear friends, the clock will chime in a moment and we will enter into the New Year with good thoughts and cheerful hopes. They say the happiest people are those who are too busy to think about it. So let us stop reasoning and make our happiness.
May the care of Belarus live in our hearts. May your work bring you prosperity, inner satisfaction and good reputation.
May selfless love which you generously give to your relatives and friends return a hundredfold to you. Let us do everything to see our children’s eyes shining with smiles, happiness, and hope. May welfare live in your homes.
Happiness, health, and success to you, dear friends.
Happy New Year!