Kazakhstan15 October 2008
Region’s most popular blog service blocked because of former ambassador’s blog
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Kazakhstan’s two main ISPs, KazakhTelecom and NurSat, have been blocking access to the popular blog service LiveJournal since 10 October without explaining why, Reporters Without Borders said today. The reason seems to be a LiveJournal blog by the president’s former son-in-law, Rakhat Aliev (http://rakhataliev.livejournal.com), that criticises the government.
“The ISPs must either restore access to the LiveJournal service or refer the problems posed by the offending blog to the courts,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Blocking the entire blog service is every negative for Internet usage in a country where there are already very few Internet users.”
The former son-in-law of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Aliev is one of the most controversial figures in Kazakhstan, which has requested his extradition from Austria. Associates of Aliev created the blog in June, and since then he has been using it to post entries with details of the past such as transcripts of telephone conversations that are compromising for some of the country’s politicians.
Rakhat Aliev (©upload.wikimedia.org)
Appointed Kazakhstan’s ambassador to Austria in January 2007, Aliev was fired six months later by Nazarbayev but he remained in Austria. The Kazakh authorities then issued a warrant for his arrest for the abduction of two senior bank officials in January 2007 in Kazakhstan and requested his extradition.
Only 2.7 per cent of the Kazakh population has an Internet connection. ISPs are required since 2004 to have a licence issued by the Agency for Information and Communication, which controls new technology development in Kazakhstan. One of the conditions for getting a licence is to use at least part of the network of KazakhTelecom, which is entirely state-controlled.
Reporters Without Borders added: “This blocking also affects Kyrgyzstan, which depends on the Kazakh Internet. This is a deliberate act of censorship that is intended to have a dissuasive effect.”
Kyrgyzstan has one of Central Asia’s high levels of Internet penetration (5 per cent) but most of its ISPs depend on the Kazakh, Chinese and Russian Internets.