An update on Kazakhstan’s Internet crackdown

The partly free republic of Kazakhstan has taken a step toward greater repression, as President Nursultan Nazarbayev (photo) recently signed a bill aimed at cracking down on the Internet.

According to David Stern, writing for GlobalPost, the new law subjects all Internet communications to Kazakhstan’s “already punitive mass media and libel laws.” The law will also make it easier for the Kazakh government to block foreign Web sites.

The bill was the subject of a protest last April during the Eurasian Media Forum, held in the country’s largest city, Almaty. I was at the forum and covered the story here and here. At the time, people like Almaty resident Adil Nurmakov, Central Asia editor for Global Voices Online, were hopeful that Nurmakov might veto the legislation.

Unfortunately, that was not to be. As Stern’s story makes clear, the authorities have decided not to risk any sort of Twitter revolution spreading to Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan is an important country — a vast, lightly populated former Soviet republic with considerable oil and gas resources. It’s a shame that Nazarbayev’s interest in opening up to the West does not extend to greater liberties for his own people.

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