THE OFFICIAL story is that Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus’s president, won a sweeping victory. On August 9th some 4.7m people, 80% of Belarusian voters, cast their ballots for him. Just 10% voted for Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, a former English teacher who replaced her jailed dissident husband on the ballot. But few in the benighted country believe the official account, which is why Belarus has seen nearly three weeks of protests demanding Mr Lukashenko’s resignation.
As has become de rigueur in the 21st century, many of the demonstrations are co-ordinated online. One app in particular, Telegram, has become a vital tool. Users share inspiring videos and plans for marches. One message shows employees of the National Academy of Sciences protesting in defiance of their bosses, and proposes a rally in support. Another reminded readers that August 25th marked the 29th anniversary of Belarus’s independence from the Soviet Union, set out the day’s celebrations, and promised a message from Ms Tikhanovskaya.
It is not just Belarus. Telegram, with more than 400m monthly users, has been used by Black Lives Matter protesters in America, as well as anti-government demonstrators in Hong Kong and Iran. Silicon Valley venture capitalists flaunt it as a symbol of fashionable edginess. Pavel Durov, its creator, makes no secret of his...
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