Mikita Cherkasau: deanonymization of police officers in Belarus could be a game-changer

As a response to the non-stop violence, Belarus cyber guerillas leaked the personal information of 2,000 high-ranking Belarus officials and promised to keep doing so if arrests continue. Belarusian Mikita Cherkasau told CyberNews that the deanonymization of police forces could be a game-changer.

On Saturday, the Telegram channel “Nexta” published a spreadsheet obtained by hackers with the personal data of around 1,000 high-ranking officials. Now, there are more than 2,000 names on the list. It includes names, surnames, birthdate, region, and position. Some of them are blamed for having beaten people violently in Brest this weekend.

On the spreadsheet, which hackers made available for everyone interested, there is a second list with more sensitive information about various members of Belarus’ armed forces. The leaked data includes mobile phone numbers, home addresses, and birthdays.

The hackers also leaked the names, surnames, birthdays, phone numbers, addresses, and even ID numbers of 7 anti-terrorist squad Almaz members who allegedly killed protester Alexander Taraikovsky and shot at journalists.

We've already seen how afraid police are of deanonymization when protesters pulled masks and balaclavas off their faces, forcing immediate retreat. This might be a game-changer, indeed,

said Mikita Cherkasau.

The hackers promised to keep leaking personal data if the government continues to arrest protesters. Belarus has been in turmoil for over a month already, as tens of thousands of people continue to peacefully march the streets of Minsk and other cities in Belarus. Alexander Lukashenko is not stepping down, and the violent crackdown on protests continues.

CyberNews spoke to Mikita Cherkasau, an activist from Belarus. He reckons that Alexander Lukashenko will not engage in cyberwarfare, and the deanonymization of police officers’ data could be a game-changer for Belarus.

So anonymous Belarusian hackers leaked data on more than 2,000 police officers. What do you think about this?

I think leaks like this might turn out to be very effective. Police officers and judges must be held responsible for following lawless and brutal orders. And I’m not talking about any sort of street justice here; legal action only.

Can this turn into some kind of cyberwarfare between the government and the protestors?

I am not sure if the government is well-prepared to engage in such warfare. They put in so much work in fighting street protests and taking down protest-related flags and art; yet more and more of those appear every day. Plus, there are a lot of online initiatives and local Telegram chats, where people from particular blocks and streets get together and coordinate their activities, that the government can hardly track down and control all of them. I don't think they have the resources. Put cyberwarfare on top of all that? It’s hardly possible.

Hackers said that security forces should not remain anonymous. And they will continue publishing data if the arrests will continue. Do you think this will stop OMON (Belarus’ riot police) from arresting people?

We've already seen how afraid police are of deanonymization when protesters pulled masks and balaclavas off their faces, forcing immediate retreat. This might be a game-changer, indeed.

What other consequences could Belarus face? Could the police become even more fierce? They arrested almost 400 women on Saturday, including 73-year-old Nina Baginskaya, so I guess there’s nothing to stop them? What do you think?

In my view, the Belarusian protest is totally unpredictable. You never know what will come next. Most of us are yet to realize what really motivates those police officers to be so violent in relation to peaceful protesters. So we don’t know exactly what might cause them to back down.

Alex Kokcharov tweet screenshot

For how long, do you believe, will the protests continue? Do you believe Belarusians will force Lukashenko to flee?

The protests have been going on for 6 weeks already, at a scale that was simply unimaginable before. At this moment, there are no signs of decline. And I think the protests will continue, because whatever Lukashenko’s regime does, it only diminishes its legitimacy to a point of no return and magnifies the societal response. The more oppression, the bigger the protest. With each arrested person come dozens of indignant people, including family members, friends and colleagues. At this point, the regime has no legal means to reclaim its legitimacy and trust.

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