Kazakh court rules to block popular blog site

Kazakh court rules to block popular blog site

August 20, 2011

Kazakhstan barred access to the popular Livejournal blog platform on Friday, just a few weeks after a two-month ban on the similar WordPress blog was lifted.

Courts spokeswoman Aylana Iskendirova said the decision was made at the request of prosecutors, who said the site featured extremist religious material and incitements to terrorism.

Authorities in the former Soviet nation routinely block blogs and the sites of independent newspapers, citing similar motivations.
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Iskendirova said the complaint related to radical Islamist blogs and that another Russian-owned blog platform, LiveInternet.ru, has also been subjected to the ban.

‘Even under international conventions, it is mandated that we hinder terrorism, extremism and other such things,’ Iskendirova said.

The court ruling was due to come into effect Saturday, but the blog platforms were already inaccessible one day before that deadline.

Livejournal had been made unavailable to Kazakh Internet users for two years up until late last year.

Observers speculated that the extended blockage might have been prompted by writings on a blog maintained by Rakhat Aliyev, the estranged former son-in-law of President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Aliyev published material alleging corruption by high-level Kazakh officials online using Livejournal.

The blog was eventually deleted by Livejournal, which declined to reveal the motives for the action.

Although it has largely fallen out of favor in the United States, Livejournal still remains one of the most popular blogging resources in former Soviet states, like Kazakhstan and Russia.

In July, Communications and Information Ministry officials announced they would restore access to U.S.-based WordPress, two months after it went offline. The ministry said it took the decision after WordPress agreed to remove material deemed to be inciting terrorism.

The website of the country’s most outspoken independent newspaper, Respublika, has been inaccessible since last year.

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