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On the evening of December 20, 2010 after the political temperature was at boiling point in the Belarusian capital Minsk, thousands of people gathered at the Independence Square to protest against electoral fraud that gave the dictator Alexander Lukashenko victory in the presidential election the day before.

telephone mastMany protesters had mobile phones with them. While slogans  with skulls and flags fluttering in the square it became much more invisible for the radio waves to broadcast between the phones in the activists' pockets and the surrounding mobile masts. Opperators used technology designed by TeliaSonera to map those protesters and gave the Belarusian security services the advantage.

The demonstration degenerates into uproar when riot police went on the attack. During many people were, abused, among others, Lukashenko's opponents in the presidential elections, Vladimir Nekljajev. Many were arrested on the spot.

The next morning, as many of the hundred of phones started ringing and those young people who the night before wanted to show their commitment to the country's future had to respond to the dreaded secret service KGB, Soviet model of catching up with opponents. The contrast this time is that the techniques used was a western model to communicate and map people.

Did TeliaSonera secretly collaborate with dictatorships?

Wednesday, 18 April 2012
Security services using the mobile operators to control the public in political events and in dictatorial countries have been reported in the past and Swedish companies have been identified as playing leading role. Most notable has been Ericsson but it has emerged that the Swedish – Finnish telecom company, TeliaSonera could have secretly worked directly with these dictators to eliminated challengers to the regimes.
Swedish telecommunications giant TeliaSonera is reported to have cooperated secretly with security services in some of the harshest dictatorships of our times. By mobile phone technology, operators helped the regimes control their own citizens - and silence the critical voices that can be tracked.

It what is circulating in Swedish media today Wednesday. According to various reports, a quarter of TeliaSonera's recent record profits of Skr36 billion came from subsidiaries in Central Asia and from hard-line dictatorships in the former Soviet Union such as Azerbaijan, Belarus and Uzbekistan.

Externally, the company wants to give the impression that they "promote the development of democracy" by its presence in those countries. But in reality they are there to do what they can to make as much money as possible even if they will help those dictators effectively track and kill their own people using their technology.
This is why mobile operators such as the Swedish mobile phone companies are so important to these regimes.

In Belarus, which is controlled by the man known as "Europe's last dictator" - Alexandr Lukasjanko, TeliaSonera, for example, is an indirect major shareholder in the country’s mobile operator Life.

It is reported that it this mobile operator creates tools and devices that assist the government to keep tracks and monitors the domestic population and sort out those who are critical of the regimes.
The regimes are said to uses the mobile operator to trace, identify and intercept people who are critical of how the country is governed.

“In principle, this is done all the time more or less in every human being whom in the slightest degree hints that he supported the political opposition,” says Pavel Privalov, who was arrested last summer when he tried to organize a demonstration through social media to Swedish television

Several people who where arrested and harassed by police and security services have also been told that they are tracked down by the company Life when they were customers.

In Belarus authorities were clear in their message to the population. After the demonstrations which followed the last general election has been quelled, as more people made cell phone calls to relatives and friends, Belarusian Interior Minister Anatoly Kulesjov made it clear that  phone calls were being monitored and users identified arrested and accused.

“No one will escape punishment. I have all the resources to implement it,” he said.
Assignment audit survey shows that all of TeliaSonera's company in eastern European dictatorship happens as the company cooperated closely with security services in those regimes.

A highly placed source told Swedish television that “there is no limit to how much one listens,” and that it has become worse with TeliaSonera's expansion to the east.

Cecilia Edström, Senior Vice President, TeliaSonera, sees it as "problematic" if the technology used is to offend people. But just because the technology can be used in bad purposes, she thinks that it is not a reason enough not to provide the opportunity for mobile communications even in those designated countries.

“There are wide – ranging powers for police in many countries to obtain information from the internet. We never make decisions about what is criminal or not, but we have to provide information under certain circumstances. And we must do. It is obviously a problem when the technique used violates human rights,” she said.
By Team

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