Fearing a run on banks and shops due to a faltering currency, the authorities in Belarus have blocked several news and e-commerce websites, according to reports. The Belarusian state-controlled economy is closely linked with that of Russia, and the slide of the Russian ruble has spooked the Belarusian authorities, who introduced a 30 percent tax on foreign currency purchases. On Saturday, the authoritarian state reportedly blocked more than a dozen online stores that raised their prices or priced items in U.S. dollars, and also blocked several independent news websites without warning.
Belarussian president Alexander Lukashenko is the latest dictator to try and quash unrest by banning social networking sites. But whether or not his fears are accurate, the truth is simple: many countries now think the success of the Internet is indistinguishable from America’s political ambitions.