The leading provider of encrypted messaging apps, Telegram, has spoken out in favor of mass protests in Belarus against the incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko.
August 25th the Telegram app presented a new animated emoji that replaces the national flag of Belarus with the white, red and white flag. In contrast to the official red and green flag of Belarus, the white, red and white flag is used as a symbol of opposition to the Lukashenko regime.
With the new function The Belarusian national flag emoji automatically switches to the animated opposition flag whenever a single symbol is entered in a message.
The latest gesture of the telegram in support of the opposition comes amid massive protests against Lukashenko. The demonstrations were sparked by the country’s controversial presidential election on August 9, which resulted in Lukashenko calling for a sixth term with around 80% of the vote. Later, The European Union rejected the election result and Chancellor Angela Merkel argued that the vote was “neither free nor fair”.
In addition to supporting the ongoing protests in Belarus The telegram has become one of the main sources of information during the protests. On August 9, Belarus suffered major internet outages, so that the country with around 9.5 million inhabitants no longer had proper internet access at the beginning of August.. The cuts were later linked to the government, but Lukashenko claimed they were orchestrated abroad.
During the blackout, Telegram was basically the only means of connecting to the Internet, a local source told Cointelegraph. Apparently, This was the result of the anti-censorship tools activated by Telegram. On August 10th, Telegram CEO Pavel Durov announced that the app would still be available to most users in Belarus despite the outages.
We activated our anti-censorship tools in Belarus so that the Telegram would remain available to most of the users there. However, the connection is still very unstable as the internet is completely shut down in the country at times. https://t.co/eA4S6Zz36H
– Pavel Durov (@durov) August 10, 2020
Telegram is known for supporting opposition players and political activists. At the beginning of this year Durov donated 10 bitcoins (BTC) to a Russia-based charity project supported by activist Yegor Zhukov. The activist is widely known as a symbol of the protests against the Kremlin.
Meanwhile, affairs in Russian politics also escalated when local opposition leader Alexei Navalny was allegedly poisoned on August 20. As Navalny is in a coma, it appears that the Russian authorities have not yet initiated a criminal investigation.