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Was WordPress banned in Kazakhstan because of just two blogs?

Written by on Wednesday, 13 July 2011
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Media and Internet
3 Comments

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Editor’s note: Information about the WordPress ban in Kazakhstan is slowly trickling out. On 15 July, it was revealed that the ban is ostensibly due to two WordPress blogs that fell afoul of Kazakh censors, but one of the blogs appears not to have existed and the other was taken down from WordPress for violating the latter’s terms of service. neweurasia’s Schwartz reports.

According to neweurasia‘s Asqat, Kazakhstan’s Minister of Communications and Information, Askar K. Zhumagaliev, has announced that the WordPress ban will be lifted soon, although the official didn’t say precisely when. In the meantime, I’m still trying to make sense of what even happened. Back on 15 July, the following comment and reply appeared on Zhumagaliev’s blog:

[...] Пожалуйста дайте срочное указание в Казахтелеком. Пусть сделают полное отображение блога на bakhytzhan10.wordpess.com Я думаю сотни людей сейчас испытывают затруднения. На wordpress заходят,а на приборную панель попасть не могу!

[...] Please give an indication of an emergency in Kazakhtelecom. Let them do the full display on a blog bakhytzhan10.wordpess.com I think hundreds of people are now experiencing difficulties. We can sign into WordPress but not access the dashboard!

25 мая 2011 года решением Сарыаркинского районного суда г. Астана наложен запрет на распространение казахстанскими провайдерами информации, размещенной на интернет-ресурсах www.djamat.wordpress.com и www.caucase.wordpress.com и признанной противоречащей законодательным актам Республики Казахстан. В этой связи, доступ к блог-платформе wordpress.com закрыт, так как все блоги, размещенные на данном интернет-ресурсе, обладают идентичными IP-адресами.

May 25, 2011 – The district court of Saryarka Astana decided to ban from distribution by Kazakh providers information posted on the websites djamat.wordpress.com and caucase.wordpress.com, which were found to contradict the legislation of the Republic of Kazakhstan. In this regard, access to the WordPress.com blog platform is closed, as are all blogs are posted on this web resource [because they] have identical IP-addresses.

I went looking for information about these two blogs. Turns out that the URL djamat.wordpress.com never existed, while caucase.wordpress.com was taken down by WordPress itself for violating their terms of service (I’ve e-mailed WordPress requesting comment WordPress declined to comment due to privacy concerns).

The most recent copy of caucase.wordpress.com available on the Internet Archive at the moment is from 14 November 2010. As the name suggests, it’s a Caucasus blog, a self-purported “Исламский Новостной Порталv” (“Islamic News Portal”). Some of the content is not particularly interesting; other, well, as you can imagine, isn’t always the friendliest toward Russia and the West. From the present available evidence, I don’t see any direct connections to Kazakhstan. For his part, Asqat remarked in an e-mail to me,

I really can not understand the position of our Government on this issue. Many bloggers think that it was the mistake from the technical staff who blocked the whole resource, rather that IP of that two blogs.

My own feeling is that there is definitely more to this story than meets the eye. I’m not waxing conspiratorial, but there’s nevertheless some piece of the puzzle that’s missing.

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