Kazakhstan disconnects the Internet to silence its political opponents

Within hours, the Kazakh government disconnected its entire Internet network, as violent protests took place across the country.

To curb the anger of its political opponents, Kazakhstan prefers to silence them. For several days now, the country has been plagued by violent protest movements, which follow in particular the exponential increase in gas prices. Faced with the demonstrators, the government initially did not hesitate to retaliate, leading to dozens of deaths and thousands of injured according to local authorities. An escalation of violence, which quickly overtook the question of fuel to become a political symbol. From now on, it is against the regime of Kassym-Jomart Tokayev that the country is rising up, and especially against the former leader Nursultan Nazarbayev, who after thirty years at the head of the country, retains an important influence on the executive.

The regime disconnects the Internet

Despite some attempts to appease the anger of the demonstrators, the Kazakh government has taken numerous repressive measures to stem the crisis. On Wednesday, the government declared a state of emergency throughout the country, with a curfew from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. For a few days, it’s been the entire Internet and mobile network that has been cut.

From the start of the week, access to Telegram, Signal and WhatsApp mobile messaging systems has been severely disrupted. A little later, the entire mobile network was shut down. One local operator has confirmed the situation, “In accordance with paragraph 1-2 of article 41-1 of the Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan on communications”. It’s finally around Wednesday at 6.30 p.m., that the entire Internet network in the country was blocked. According to the Mir24 television channel, only the telephone network still seems operational.

After a brief return to normal during a presidential speech calling for intervention by Russian forces on Wednesday evening, the network was the subject of a new censorship a few hours later, to finally be partially reconnected on Thursday at the end of daytime.

According to the organization Netblocks, it is unfortunately not the first time the country has faced disruption on the Internet following a political crisis. For the government, it is not only a question of disorganizing the protesters by depriving them of means of communication, but also of limit the flow of information outside the country. However, this week’s operation remains “On an unprecedented scale”, both in its speed of execution and in its scope, point out regulators and NGOs, who call on the authorities to “Immediately restore Internet access for all”.

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