Nazarbaev and the Internet Law

by Michael Hancock-Parmer on 7/5/2009 · 1 comment

Tomorrow is Capital Day in Kazakhstan.  Before the holiday weekend, as has been widely reported, a law was passed through parliament and placed before Nazarbaev.  This law would allow the government to block sites they deem a threat.  The people I’ve spoken to in Almaty have a range of opinions, as do those online, both supporting and against.  In general, those in favor of the bill do not use the Internet, and believe the government’s claims that the law will help protect Kazakhstan’s citizens from Internet pornography, particularly child pornography.  While child pornography is no laughing matter, there are already sufficient laws on the books, in my opinion, to easily bring such criminals to court and sentence them.

Those, like me, who find this law atrocious, are coming to the second realization of this bill’s purpose.

The OSCE has, naturally, come out in opposition to the bill, as have those international organizations that follow Kazakhstan’s internal politics.  Could this, then, be another relatively easy way for Nazarbaev to cleanse his international image and present himself as a protector of the people’s rights?  Some friends and I see this as a 50/50 chance – Nazarbaev might use it as a mid-term rebuke against the parliament, and paint himself as the people’s protector, their best defender against the parliament’s attempts to threaten their civil liberties.  This is not the first or last time such political strategies have been engineered, and I imagine it will be more successful than some in the past.

Again, to sum up, passing the bill into law would increase Nazarbaev’s government’s power over possible opposition as well as showing their independence from the OSCE and civil society development organizations.  Refusing to sign the Bill would raise Nazarbaev’s stock with many, though those of us Realists/Cynics might still be able to find things to complain about, natch.

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This post was written by...

– author of 20 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Michael earned an MA in Central Eurasian Studies in 2011 and remains a student at Indiana University pursuing a dual PhD in Russian History and Central Eurasian Studies. He served 6 months in the Peace Corps in Uzbekistan in 2005. After the events in Andijan and the subsequent closure of the program, he served 2 years in southern Kazakhstan, returning to the Midwest in 2007. His general area of interest is on post-Timur Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, centered on the Syr Darya river valley.

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{ 1 comment }

Joshua Foust July 6, 2009 at 6:52 am

Kinda weird how this is like a yearly phenomenon, isn’t it?

I remember the same concerns over Kazakhstan’s web censorship when they cancelled Borat’s .kz domain account.

This is, of course, a whole world of difference.

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