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Over 1,000 Telegram channels coordinate Belarusian protests, authorities say

According to the high-ranking official, some 6-15% of citizens of Minsk’s neighborhoods are engaged in the "destructive" activity on the Internet

MINSK, December 3. /TASS/. More than 1,000 Telegram channels are coordinating protests in Belarus, Deputy Head of the Belarusian Presidential Administration Andrei Kuntsevich told a roundtable discussion on Thursday.

"As monitoring of information space shows, citizens are engaged in various Internet communities of destructive nature. For example, more than 1,000 Telegram channels have been created especially for coordinating protest movement at the level of neighborhoods and regional territories as well as major enterprises," Kuntsevich was quoted by BelTA news agency as saying.

According to Kuntsevich, some 6-15% of citizens of Minsk’s neighborhoods are engaged in this activity. "Every day, some 50,000-100,000 messages are generated there. Well, you should agree, these are huge figures, and we have no right to turn a blind eye to this," he stressed.

The deputy head of the presidential administration noted that Belarus can counter this movement, including at the legal level, while state institutions, media communities and lawmakers should play a role in tackling this issue.

The roundtable called "Media in the political process. Topical aspects of legal regulation" in the lower house of parliament, the House of Representatives, was attended by Information Minister Igor Lutsky and heads of the republic’s media outlets and the Belarusian Union of Journalists.

Nationwide demonstrations have engulfed Belarus following the August 9 presidential election. According to the Central Election Commission’s official results, incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko won by a landslide, garnering 80.10% of the vote. His closest rival in the race, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, came in second, with 10.12% of the ballot. However, she refused to recognize the election’s outcome, and left Belarus for Lithuania. After the results of the exit polls were announced late on August 9, mass protests erupted in downtown Minsk and other Belarusian cities. During the early post-election period, the rallies snowballed into fierce clashes between the protesters and police. The current unrest is being cheered on by the opposition’s Coordination Council, which has been beating the drum for more protests. In response, the Belarusian authorities have castigated the ongoing turmoil and demanded that these unauthorized demonstrations be stopped. For coordinating protests, demonstrators use Telegram channels and social networks.