The entire digital ecosystem in the Eastern European country of Belarus appears to be under threat. This week, Belarus authorities blocked Tut.by, one of the leading news and marketplace sites in the country. The requirement to do so was initiated by the attorney general office that “detected multiple violations of the law about mass media.”
The Tut.by website is currently inaccessible, both in Belarus and globally.
Additionally, the offices of leading recruitment vertical Rabota.ru and leading automotive vertical Av.by were raided by state security forces on May 17. Both had working relationships with Tut.by. Adevinta-owned Kufar.by has so far been untouched by state forces.
Why the attack on marketplaces?
Since mid-2020, Belarus has witnessed mass protests by its many citizens in defiance of the long-held rule of president Alexander Lukashenko. With the protests being led primarily by the country’s younger demographic, the IT and internet sector has been mostly openly supportive of the movement.
This has resulted in a meditated crackdown by the government on digital companies, with regular internet cutoffs and offices being raided.
Tut.by runs Top 5 verticals across jobs, real estate and autos, as well as a horizontal. The site has become a focal point for the opposition movement in Belarus, publishing footage and articles that the government has deemed unlawful.
“The co-founder of Tut.by Kirill Voloshin announces that the portal’s domain has been blocked,” the Belarusian Association of Journalists said on social media. “A criminal case has been initiated against Tut.by by the Belarusian Financial Investigation Department.”
Daria Danilova, CEO at local startup RocketData, which has been funded by Tut.by, has also been arrested.
Almost all significant marketplaces in Belarus are privately owned by local entities. Kufar.by is the only marketplace owned by a foreign parent — the Oslo-listed marketplace operator Adevinta.