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from Global News Journal:

Web crackdown spreads

-- David L. Stern covers the former Soviet Union and the Black Sea region for GlobalPost, where this article originally ran. --

With less than six months until it takes over the chairmanship of one of Europe’s flagship human rights organizations, Kazakhstan has thumbed its nose to Western governments and introduced a draconian Internet law.

The new legislation follows similar crackdowns on online political communication in other former Soviet republics and signals a growing fear among officials in authoritarian states after public uprisings in Iran and Moldova were fueled by internet social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook.

Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed a law on July 10 that classifies all online public discussions as forms of publication. As a result, any comment that appears on a blog, forum, chatroom or social networking site, such as Facebook and Live Journal, is subject to the country’s already punitive mass media and libel laws. The law also restricts foreign news outlets, which can be blocked if they are likewise found to disseminate information that violates the Central Asian state’s laws on expression.

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