The Kazakh authorities demonstrated the extent of their know-how during their brutal crackdown on rioting in Zhanaozen in December 2011, when they cut off the region’s Internet and telecommunications and filtered Twitter and the leading independent news sites throughout the country. This is now legal. Since April 2014, the government has the power to block any website within hours without a court order. It just has to see “harm to persons, society or the state” or “calls for participation in extremist activities, mass disorder or authorized demonstrations.” In such circumstances, it can also disconnect any network or means of communication. Many independent news websites that used to be subjected to intermittent filtering are now permanently blocked. The totally paranoid authorities systematically shoot the messenger whenever there is bad news. In recent months, they blocked Fergananews.com for mentioning inter-communal clashes in a southern village, Kloop.kg for mentioning the presence of Kazakh children in Islamic State training camps, and Meduza.io for investigating pro-Russian separatism in the north. And critical bloggers are increasingly likely to be jailed for a few days or weeks.

Kazakhstan is ranked #160 over 180 countries in the 2015 World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders.