MINSK -- Hackers leaked the personal data of 1,000 members of the Belarusian police force in retaliation for a crackdown on street demonstrations against strongman President Alyaksandr Lukashenka ahead of another mass rally scheduled on September 20.
"As the arrests continue, we will continue to publish data on a massive scale," said a statement that was distributed by the opposition news channel Nexta Live on the messaging app Telegram. "No one will remain anonymous even under a balaclava."
The Ministry of Internal Affairs said the government will identify and punish those responsible for leaking the data, which was widely distributed on Telegram channels late on September 19.
"The forces, means, and technologies at the disposal of the internal affairs bodies make it possible to identify and prosecute the overwhelming majority of those guilty of leaking personal data on the Internet," said Volha Chamadanava, a ministry spokeswoman.
The published list contains information on 1,003 police officers, including their surnames, names, patronymics, dates of birth, the units in which they serve, their ranks, and positions.
The development came after several thousand women marched in central Minsk on September 19 to demand Lukashenka's resignation, briefly scuffling with riot police who then blocked their path.
Black uniformed riot police swiftly forced hundreds of women, who had stood with linked hands, into police vans.
Women shouted, "Shame!" as police forced protesters into vans. "We won't forget! We won't forgive!" shouted the women, who were carrying red-and-white flags and banners, a symbol of the opposition that has been banned by the authorities.
Vyasna, a human rights organization in Belarus, said more than 300 people were arrested during the September 19 march.
Thousands have been detained and many of them have been beaten by Lukashenka's security forces, their faces often obscured by masks, balaclavas, or riot helmets. Protesters have physically torn off the masks of some officers.
Lukashenka's crackdown on the protests has prompted the European Union to mull fresh sanctions against his regime.
The loyalty of the security forces is crucial to Lukashenka's ability to stay in power following the August 9 presidential poll which the veteran leader claimed he won by a landslide.
The opposition says the election was rigged to hand the former Soviet collective farm boss, who has been in power since 1994, a sixth term.