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Kazakhstan15 April 2003

Access to Internet websites blocked

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the Kazakh authorities for blocking access to several websites, run by the opposition or providing independent news, which regularly carry critical articles about President Nursultan Nazarbayev and government officials involved in corruption.

"The near-monopoly of the state-owned Kazakhtelecom as an Internet service provider (ISP) must not be used to block independent and diverse news," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard in a letter to culture and information minister Mukhtar Kul-Mukhamed. "We ask you to make every effort to ensure the free flow of online news and to end all censorship of news websites, whatever their editorial line."

Yuri Mizinov, editor of the news site Navigator (www.navigator.kz), called in experts who told him all Kazakhtelecom customers had been prevented from accessing the site. Other political news sites, such as www.eurasia.org.ru, www.kub.kz, the websites of opposition figures Mukhtar Ablyazov (www.ablyazov.info), Galymzhan Zhakiyanov (www.zhakiyanov.info) and Akezhan Kazhegeldyn (www.kazhegeldin.addr.com), as well as opposition media sites such as Vesti Pavlodara (www.vestipavl.com), Assandi Times and www.respublika.kz have also been blocked. The only way to access them is through foreign-based ISPs, which involves delays of up to half an hour.




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