Belarus drops iron firewall on Internet in effort to keep ecommerce cash inside the country

New laws look more like radical protectionism than simple censorship

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Belarus' ruble has been devalued twice during the past year, dropping 36 percent during the spring and another 20 percent in October, when the Belarusian ruble was trading at 9,000 per U.S. dollar.

The International Monetary Fund has refused to provide any loans to help restructure the Belarusian economy until the government reduces inflation driven by solutions such as printing enough rubles to increase the money supply more than 50 percent during the first nine months of 2011, to restrain the growth of wages and keep prices from rising too fast for wage increases to keep up.

Adding extra restrictions, penalties and requirements on use of the Internet is a common tactic for authoritarian governments under pressure from unhappy citizens. Belarus' iron firewall seems less an effort at political control, however, than it does an attempt to impose buy-local policies whose goal is to keep money from fleeing the country disguised in other currencies to avoid being devalued at home.

The new law goes into effect Jan. 6.

Photo Credit: 

Reuters/Vasily Fedosenko

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