TeliaSonera has recently launched a new logo and branding and wants with it to convey a sense of modernity, innovation and confidence in the future. They speak proudly of their work to protect the privacy of their clients, to help people to communicate safely, easy, efficient and environmentally friendly.

Telia Sonera is a part-owner of the Turkish company Turkcell, which in turn owns 80% of telecommunications company Life in Belarus. 20% is owned by President Lukashenko himself.

Lukashenko is known for his tough methods where they for years have been imprisoning, beating, torturing and kidnapping oppositional politicians and independent journalists. The presidential election in December 2010 launched a nightmare of violence and persecution, which still is far from over.

-       The Belarusian regime is the last dictatorship in Europe, and it now lives up to the epithet even more, for its hard-line domestic policies which recently changed from being authoritarian to totalitarian. A very important tool in the regime’s efforts to protect power and keep the balance of repressions against its own people is the very extensive mass surveillance directly connected to the Belarusian secret service KGB, says Isabel Sommerfeld, coordinator of Info Belarus.

Through major wiretapping, surveillance and mass data storage the regime hunts down oppositional politicians and journalists. In the recent months, presidential candidates from the 2010 election has told about how the KGB have been torturing them and threatened to kill family members. In the trial against presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov it turned out that his phone calls were tapped during the entire election campaign, and that these recordings were used for judging Sannikov to five years in prison.

The regime has been tracking those who were at the square to protest against the electoral fraud in Minsk on December 19, by requesting a list of those, from among others the telephone network for which TeliaSonera is a part-owner . The monitoring and tracking systems, and the mass data storage Lukashenko uses are connected to TeliaSonera’s business in Belarus and the technological tools have free access to TeliaSonera’s network.

-       Through its partnership with Lukashenko TeliaSonera contributes to the regimes violation of human rights and freedom. It is not difficult to argue that TeliaSonera’s proud statements on safe and secure communications are not true for the people of Belarus. We demand that TeliaSonera immediately look over their business in the country. A company partly owned by the Swedish State and thereby the Swedish tax payers should not directly cooperate with regimes that govern by political persecution, threats, violence and torture, says Isabel Sommerfeld.

Thursday the 19th of May at 11:30 to 12:30 we will be holding a solidarity demonstration for human rights and freedom in Belarus at Sergels Torg in Stockholm. The demonstration is organized by Info Belarus in cooperation with SILC and Östgruppen. Meanwhile, an article of presidential candidate Ales Michalevich will be published on infobelarus.nu, where he tells about the presidential election and torture in the KGB prison. It is time to break the silence regarding the abuse and persecution in Belarus. We hope that TeliaSonera also will take responsibility and stop its support to the dictatorship.

For more information or questions, contact:

Isabel Sommerfeld, Coordinator of Info Belarus

+46(0)707 292 188