Kazakhstan hunts for online, printed extremist material

By Ksenia Bondal


Young residents of Taraz view an extremist video online on February 16, 2017. [Alexander Bogatik]

ALMATY -- Since the beginning of the year, cyber security specialists at Kazakhstan's Ministry of Religious Affairs and Civil Society have inspected the content of 5,527 "internet resources", finding that 2,487 contained illegal extremist material.

The specialists sent their analyses to the Ministry of Information and Communication, which will take the appropriate technical measures -- mainly blocking the websites to readers inside Kazakhstan, according to a November 8 statement from the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Civil Society.

"Internet resources" is a very broad term that includes social networking pages, among others, Astana-based religious extremism analyst Alibek Kimanov told Caravanserai.

Radicalised individuals lately have not bothered to create websites, as doing so requires more financial and human resources, said Kimanov. Instead, extremist recruiters and ideologists just open social networking accounts.

"One person can create several accounts," he said. "They send out friend [requests] to everyone and anyone, and once they have their audience, they just re-post the same text."

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Civil Society is inspecting printed materials on religious matters confiscated from bookstores and libraries.

So far this year, ministry specialists have evaluated 3,495 printed materials, out of which they found 179 to have extremist content.

Earlier this year, Kazakhstani authorities warned that international terrorist groups actively use the internet and social networking sites to spread their message across the world, including Central Asia.

In February Kazakhstan announced that it was developing a cyber-security planning document, or "kontseptsiya", to combat extremist recruiting and propaganda online.

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