Anonymous hackers who leaked the personal data of 1,000 Belarusian police officers are threatening to release more information if crackdowns against protesters continue.
- Many police officers in Belarus have covered their faces as they try to control demonstrations
- Hackers said face coverings would no longer protect the identity of officers
- President Alexander Lukashenko’s Government has vowed to find and punish those who leaked the information
A statement distributed on Saturday evening (local time) by opposition news channel Nexta Live said the leaks were in retaliation to the arrests of street demonstrators against President Alexander Lukashenko.
“As the arrests continue, we will continue to publish data on a massive scale,” the statement read.
“No one will remain anonymous even under a balaclava.”
The loyalty of the security forces is crucial to Mr Lukashenko’s ability to cling on to power following last month’s presidential election.
Mr Lukashenko claimed a landslide victory, but his opponents say the election was rigged to hand the President a sixth term.
Security forces have detained thousands of people to tackle a wave of protests and strikes, their faces often obscured by masks, balaclavas or riot helmets.
Some protesters have physically torn off the masks of officers.
Olga Chemodanova, the spokeswoman for the Ministry of Internal Affairs, said the Government would find and punish those responsible for leaking the data.
“The forces, means and technologies at the disposal of the internal affairs bodies make it possible to identify and prosecute the overwhelming majority of those guilty of leaking personal data on the internet,” Ms Chemodanova said.
The Government said 390 women were detained for taking part in a protest on Saturday against Mr Lukashenko — most have been released.
Mr Lukashenko’s crackdown on the protests has prompted the European Union to weigh fresh sanctions against his Government.
Minsk reacted angrily on Saturday to reports that Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the leading opposition candidate in last month’s election, could soon meet EU foreign ministers.
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova also criticised the EU for inviting Ms Tsikhanouskaya to the ministerial meeting as well as for considering sanctions against Minsk, saying Brussels was trying to “rock the boat” in Belarus.
More demonstrations are expected in Belarus on Sunday.