Estonia may offer help to opposition websites in Belarus

Tallinn - Estonia is weighing the possibility of offering its expertise in cyber defence to help opposition parties in Belarus protect their websites, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said Monday.

The government would also work to simplify travel by Belarusians to Estonia, Paet said.

The moves come in the wake of a crackdown by Belarusian President Aleksander Lukashenko on opposition politicians and independent media following massive protests against his re-election in December.

Estonia developed a reputation for excellence in the field of cyber-defence after it withstood cyber attacks emanating from Russia in 2007. It now hosts NATO's cyber defence headquarters.

Paet said Estonia is 'weighing opportunities to offer training on the protection and management of websites run by the Belarusian opposition.'

The Baltic state which, like Belarus, was once a republic of the Soviet Union, is also planning to waive visa fees for Belarusian citizens and to provide scholarships to university students barred for political reasons from studying in their home country.

'In order to facilitate people-to-people contacts, we would like to simplify travel to Estonia for citizens of Belarus,' Paet said.

He said that recent developments in Belarus 'do not correspond to democratic values, and the Belarusian authorities must promptly release all those arrested who were not connected to the (election day) violence,' Paet said.

International observers said the presidential poll, in which Lukashenko got a purported 80 per cent of the vote, was rigged. Hundreds of people were arrested after the massive protests that followed.


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