Election Monitoring in Kyrgyzstan

The OpenNet Initiative (ONI) has been monitoring the Internet during the elections in Kyrgyzstan. Although the Internet is not widely used in Kyrgyzstan it is playing an important role in the election, and like traditional media, is being subject to disruptions. The ONI has released two press releases (available here and here) and our Kyrgyz friends have started a KG election blog hosted on another one of the Citizen Lab’s projects, the Civiblog. A quick summary of events so far flows below, stay tuned for more information.

During the recent elections in Kyrgyzstan there were distributions targeting various forms of media. For example, electrical power was cut to U.S-sponsored Freedom House which publishes opposition newspapers and the U.S.-sponsored Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (Radio Azattyk) was suspended because the contract for the frequency they use was not renewed.

Although Internet access is not wide spread in Kyrgyzstan the Internet has made an impact on this election. For example, a document was anonymously posted to the Internet that claimed to contain notes from a secret government meeting which included a plan to temporarily block access to anti-government websites during the election period. This was reported in opposition newspapers. Prior to the election there were several interesting cases including the defacement of www.kyrgyz.us and www.gazeta.kg, the email bombing of journalist’s inboxes, and false emails sent from spoofed addresses to discredit some opposition websites. There was also an interesting case in which the domain name kelkel.kg was registered by an individual. However, it was ruled that kelkel was an organization and as such was not properly registered. A pro-government group then registered kelkel as an organization and managed to have kelkel.kg turned over to them claiming copyright violations.

There have also been Denial of Service (DoS) attacks that have made some opposition websites (www.gazeta.kg, www.kyrgyz.us, www.ar-namys.org) hosted outside of Kyrgyzstan inaccessible for period of time (to all users, inside and outside of KG). In addition, a DoS attack also temporarily disabled all websites hosted by major Kyrgyz ISPs (Elcat and AsiaInfo). These ISPs host the websites of many Kyrgyz political parties (including pro-government parties), media outlets and NGOs. In response to the DoS attacks measures were taken by the ISP’s (and an upstream provider in the case of AsiaInfo) so that web sites hosted by these ISPs were no longer accessible outside of Kyrgyzstan for several days during the election.

Stay tuned, developments are on going!

Post a comment.