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Kazakhstan: LiveJournal Blocked

On October 7th, the Kazakhstani users have found themselves unable to access popular social network LiveJournal. This website is the most popular blogging platform in the Russian-speaking communities on the post-Soviet space. Bloggers in the neighboring Kyrgyzstan were also cut off – particularly, those whose ISPs use the facilities of KazakhTelecom, the Kazakhstan's state-owned telecom monopoly. The Kazakhtelecom officials kept silence for more than a week, and only on October 15th, they have publicly denied any implication in filtering the content [ru].

At the same time, LiveJournal is still accessible from Kazakhstan only through several independent providers like 2Day Telecom and Ducat. The overwhelming majority of users are forced to use bypass unconventional methods to enter the LiveJournal service and continue blogging – among these ways are a mirror, mylj.ru, and a couple of online anonymizers. Some of them use Tor. The users – among whom there are a lot of journalists – have managed to draw media attention to the problem. Reuters and some major Russian news agencies reported on the issue. Bloggers have prepared and submitted an open letter to the management of SUP, a Moscow-based company that runs LiveJournal.

Among the possible reasons of blockage are probable technical troubles, however, purely technical problems do not normally last for such a long period of time. The main rumored political reasoning behind the crackdown on the blogging service is a diary of Rakhat Aliyev, the former presidential son-in-law, media tycoon and boss of the special services. He had been repeatedly accused by the public of various wrongdoings, but evaded punishment until last year, when he was eventually charged with preparation of a coup, abduction of people and racketeering, and sentenced to 40 years in jail. He fled to Vieanna, Austria, and sporadically uses Internet to throw in discrediting materials about the ruling elite. Although, the base website, from which the articles in his LiveJournal are being reposted, is not filtered.

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