Out of Ukraine and the anti-government protests continuing there comes a chilling example of a government using modern technology to pinpoint its opponents.
Just received a text: ‘Dear subscriber, you are registered [continues] as a participant in a mass riot’ pic.twitter.com/miTWyvugbx
— Olaf Koens (@obk) January 20, 2014
Thousands of Ukrainian protesters received that message on their cell phones as a new anti-demonstration law went into effect. The New York Times reported the “Ukrainian government used telephone technology to pinpoint the locations of cell phones in use near clashes between riot police officers and protesters early on Tuesday.”
As Brian Merchant writes at Vice, “It’s further reminder that authoritarian regimes are exploiting the very technology once celebrated as a vehicle for liberation; last year, in Turkey, you’ll recall, the state rounded up dissident Twitter users. Now, Ukraine is tracing the phone signal directly. Dictators have already proved plenty adept at pulling the plug on the internet altogether. All of this puts lie to the lately-popular mythology that technology is inherently a liberating force—with the right hack, it can oppress just as easily.”
Champion boxer Vitali Klitschko, a fervent anti-communist who has been literally jumping into the middle of the fray in an effort to stop the violent clashes, told protesters that he’s ready to fight to bring calm back to Kiev:
He called on the President Yanukovych. “I know that at this moment he is watching the broadcast. You may resolve this issue. Early elections will change the situation without blood. We will do everything to achieve this. Listen to the People!”, the UDAR leader stressed.
Vitali Klitschko told that today’s talks with Yanukovych showed that the current President has no desire to resolve the situation. “We asked whether he is considering the possibility to hold early elections to change the power. No answer. Will the Cabinet resign? Perhaps, but it should be discussed at the next parliamentary session and the Party of Regions should consider it”, the politician told.
Klitschko also promised to do everything to prevent further bloodshed and deaths of peaceful activists.
“I am here at the square with every one of you. If we have to stand, I will stand. If we have to fight, I will fight. Many people say: “Vitali, we rely on you”. I will do everything that depends on me, to avoid further bloodshed and find a way to solve this situation. I will defend the interests of the people and the country. I want to live in a modern European country, like many of you. Tomorrow there will be more of us, and we will win”, the leader of UDAR said.
He also called on security forces to move to the side of the people and not to use weapons against civilians. “You have to protect your people and not to use weapons against your own people. I guarantee protection to everyone who moves to the side of people!”, Klitschko called on the police.