The Operational and Analytical Centre under the aegis of Lukashenka announced itself an “independent regulator of the Internet”.
Official BelTA news agency reports that Belarus will take part in the OSCE conference “Internet 2013 – Sharing policies to advance media freedom” scheduled for February 14-15 in Vienna.
The official Belarusian delegation is represented by Uladzimir Rabavolau, the first deputy head of the Operational and Analytical Centre under the aegis of Lukashenka. He is expected to participate in the discussion “The Multi-Stakeholder Approach to Internet Governance”.
Yury Zisser, the founder of TUT.BY Internet portal, will also attend the conference as a representative of the “civil society”, BelTA reports.
The pro-Lukashenka news agency preferred not to mention that editor of independent website charter97.org Natallia Radzina was also invited to the conference.
According to Uladzimir Rabavolau, Internet technologies are vigorously developing in Belarus; the external gateway is expanding; the number of Internet users is on the rise. Belarus is implementing large-scale projects in information and telecommunications, like construction of a new transit communication main line, introduction of LTE technologies, and creation of the single data transmission network. Belarus’ efforts and achievements will be presented at the forum.”
“The Operational and Analytical Centre acts as an independent regulator of the information and telecommunication industry in Belarus; it maintains close ties with the civil society,” Uladzimir Rabavolau said.
Businessman Yury Zisser said in an interview with BelTA: “The government consults with civil society. In many countries of the world Internet regulation is based on interaction between the government, private business and public associations.”
He also raised a question of the restricted access to Internet resources, which is voluntary for ordinary users. “For half of the year I have never had any problems opening Internet websites,” Yury Zisser said.
The editor-in-chief of charter97.org, Natallia Radzina, comments on the situation:
“Lukashenka's decree on Censorship on the Internet was adopted in 2010. It obliged Internet service providers to register users and keep information about the services rendered to them. Owners of Internet cafés were obliged to check passports of visitors. The control over the Internet was given to the Operational and Analytical Centre (OAC). The OAC and other authorised bodies make lists of banned resources. ISPs must block access to them for governmental bodies, educational and cultural institutions. Some pro-opposition resources, including the website Charter'97, were banned.
The 'independence' of the OAC is illustrated by the fact that centre's first head Valery Vakulchyk finished the higher courses for military counter-intelligence in 1992 and worked for state security bodies since 1991. He headed the Operational and Analytical Centre under the aegis of Lukashenka in 2008. He became head of the Investigation Committee in October 2011 and chairman of the KGB in 2012.
When the OAC speaks about close ties with the 'civil society', I ask myself: What ties do they mean?
I'd like to ask the OSCE: How is it possible to give the floor to a punitive agency?”