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Uzbekistan27 July 2006

Authorities block Neweurasia blog platform

Reporters Without Borders today condemned a new wave of Internet censorship in Uzbekistan, where Neweurasia, a website that hosts a network of blogs about Central Asia and the Caucasus, has been inaccessible for several weeks. The government probably ordered local ISPs to block the domain name after it launched Russian and Uzbek-language versions.

“This is the third case of this type we have registered this month,” said Reporters Without Borders, which has identified Uzbekistan as one of the Internet’s 15 worst enemies. “First it was independent news websites. Now it is blogs that have been added to the government blacklist.”

The organisation added: “We point out that it is still possible to get round the government’s filtering. We hope Uzbek journalists and bloggers will not be discouraged and will continue to use the Internet to publish independent news and information.”

A blog platform created last year, Neweurasia aims to offer alternative news coverage in a part of the world where the traditional media are under government control. By partnering with the Prague-based NGO Transitions Online at the start of this year, it was able to set up a programme for training local bloggers. Anyone now trying to connect to from within Uzbekistan is automatically redirected to the MSN search engine.

This latest case of censorship comes after the blocking of the website on 26 June and the decision by the editor of to suspend web activities on 4 July as a result of harassment.

Since last November, all local ISPs have had to be connected to the state-owned Internet operator Uzbektelecom, which facilitates the enforcement of government blacklists. For information about ways to get round censorship, consult the Reporters Without Borders Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents (in Russian).

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