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Belarus Authorities’ Counter-Revolutionary ICTs Tactics: 2001-2010

EAStudies Volodymyr Lysenko (University of Washington) and I have a paper accepted in Europe-Asia Studies.

Belarus authorities’ counter-revolutionary tactics related to information and communication technologies in 2001-2010: lessons learned

Information and communication technology (ICT)-enabled revolutionary tactics play an important role in uprisings against non-democratic regimes worldwide. Up to now, a critical understanding of how authorities in those countries employ ICT-based counter-revolutionary measures has been missing. In this paper we examine the evolution of ICT-based counterrevolutionary tactics employed by one of the most ingrained authoritarian regimes—that of Belarus—through the last decade (2001-2010). The political opposition’s responses to the authorities’ countermeasures are also investigated, followed by an analysis of the co-evolution of these opponents’ ICT-related tactics. We suggest that use of ICT (by both sides) was not among the main factors leading to Belarus’ failed colour revolution. Rather, factors such as miscalculations on the side of the opposition; effective preemption by authorities; collaboration with foreign regimes by the authorities; and harsh physically oppressive measures by the authorities played the main part. Based on these conclusions, implications for the general theoretical framework of political cyberprotest in the former USSR are discussed. Finally, practical suggestions for the improvement of dissenters’ use of ICT during major political cyberprotest are provided.

Charting the co-Evolution of Cyberprotest and Counteraction to appear in Convergence

Volodymyr Lysenko and I have a paper accepted in Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies. Volodymyr is a former PhD student of mine that graduated from the Information School at the University of Washington. This paper draws on work he did while completing his dissertation. The paper is titled, Charting the co-Evolution of Cyberprotest and Counteraction: The Case of Former Soviet Union States from 1997-2011.

In this paper, we investigate the evolution of the modern information and communication technologies (ICTs) and the associated changes in protest-related tactics employed by two main stakeholders in the contemporary contentious political processes—dissenters and incumbent political authorities. Through in-depth investigation of the cyberprotest cases in the former Soviet states of Belarus, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine that occurred during the last decade, a coherent outline is developed of the co-evolution of ICTs-enabled protest tactics of the main counterparts in the contemporary political struggle in these countries. Particularly, it was found that there are at least three highly distinguishable levels of development of modern ICTs and the associated types of protest-related tactics employed by the main stakeholders in these events. We find that as soon as the authorities were able to effectively counteract the previous ICTs-enabled tactics by the dissenters, new developments in modern ICTs always empowered the latter to devise new effective strategies to overcome previously successful counter-revolutionary measures of the political authorities.

Reference: Lysenko, V.V., and Desouza, K.C. “Charting the co-Evolution of Cyberprotest and Counteraction: The Case of Former Soviet Union States from 1997-2011,” Convergence, Forthcoming.