Qurium: Dozens of Foreign Websites & Social Networks Blocked in Turkmenistan

The sole Internet provider in Turkmenistan—Turkmentelecom state company—is blocking dozens of foreign media websites, social networks, and other services through DNS spoofing, IP blocking, and HTTP host header inspection. This is the conclusion of research conducted by the Qurium Media Foundation, a Swedish non-governmental organization, providing digital security services to independent media in repressive countries. The research was conducted together with turkmen.news, a beneficiary of Qurium’s services.

The experts discovered that 133 websites in all from the Alexa list of the most popular sites worldwide are blocked in Turkmenistan

Foreign media websites are inaccessible, including the sites of the BBC, Reuters, Echo Moskvy radio station, Habertürk, Hürriyet, and a number of other Turkish news media, Deutsche Welle, Der Spiegel, and Radio France Internationale, and the Dailymotion platform. The websites of Komsomolskaya Pravda and Izvestiya newspapers, TASS news agency, and the Meduza and newsru.com online publications are among the blocked Russian websites, alongside Echo Moskvy.

Residents of Turkmenistan cannot access the world’s most popular social networks either: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Telegram, Odnoklassniki, VKontakte, RuTube, Vimeo, and more are all blocked.

Popular sites for cloud storage or file sharing are also blocked, including Dropbox, WeTransfer, Scribd, ZippyShare, SendSpace, 4Shared, CloudFront, and Turbobit, Qurium discovered. There is no access either to the TeamViewer service, which provides remote control of computers and videoconferencing.

“Qurium believes that access to information is a key element for critical thinking and public education,” – Ester Eriksson, managing director of Qurium Media Foundation said. “Widespread blocking of information, without logic or reasoning,  is not the way to educate a population. The government of Turkmenistan is depriving its population from information, which is the reason we support turkmen.news with circumvention capabilities.”

Turkmentelecom hasn’t stopped there. It has also closed off access to porn websites, the website of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the WordPress platform for creating websites, and even the seemingly inoffensive GIPHY tool for downloading GIFs.

In 2019 Turkmenistan took the final, 180th, place in the international organization Reporters Without Borders’ annual press freedom ratings. The authorities do not officially admit to blocking the sites they consider unsuitable.

“There is no restriction on using the Internet in Turkmenistan. Over the past five years [in the country] more than 15 private websites and Internet portals have been set up and remain active,” Turkmen Deputy Foreign Minister Vepa Hajiev said in Geneva in 2018 at a hearing of the UN Human Rights Council on Turkmenistan.

In fact, in order to access forbidden websites, including independent Turkmen news resources, residents have to resort to the help of VPN servers, but most of them remain inaccessible.

Qurium has created a mirror of our site especially for readers of turkmen.news. It’s now possible to enter the turkmen.news site via the link: https://storage.googleapis.com/qurium/turkmen.news/index.html