Belarus protesters turn to internet

By Sebastian Usher

BBC world media correspondent

In the wake of Belarus' presidential election, which the opposition says was rigged in favour of President Alexander Lukashenko, critics of the government are struggling to spread the word about their protests.

The opposition has very limited media resources at its disposal.

Most of the independent press has been forced out of business. TV is entirely under state control.

The internet has provided an outlet for independent reporting.

Since Sunday, several sites have run eyewitness accounts from the anti-Lukashenko protests.

One, Charter 97, has a picture of Parliament Square in Minsk on its front page - with the time 1830 and the date 21 March - encouraging people to join the rally.

A banner reads: "We Want a New One!" referring to the presidential election. The words are printed against denim - the symbol the protesters are using for what they have hopefully dubbed their "Blue Revolution".

State sarcasm

On Monday evening, the site ran regular reports on events in Parliament Square - saying that at least 20,000 people were there - a higher estimate than that given by other sources.

Pictures snapped at the protest have been posted to image-hosting sites like Flickr.

But for the moment at least, these efforts are unlikely to worry the authorities too greatly - with only a small fraction of people in Belarus having regular access to the internet.

As for state TV, it has so far shown no pictures of Monday's rally - instead it continues to run a sarcastic report on the protests on Sunday night, portraying them as the work of a drunken rabble.