Even though Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymuhammedov announced two years ago the necessity of universal Internet access, the Web is more than restricted in the country. This is connected to cruel official censorship, the serious limitation of the availability and speed of Internet connections in cities, and its total absence in villages. I haven’t even mentioned the high price of going online, the strict state monitoring of the few public Internet cafes in the cities, and the widespread practice of opening and inspecting instant messages and e-mails.
Journalists in Turkmenistan are persecuted for making any independent statements. The fear of punishment stops them from relying on the Internet as a trusted space for publishing their opinions. There is also the problem of computer literacy among the population, which is low.
Tadzhigul Begmedova is chairwoman of the Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, based in Bulgaria.
(Translated from Russian)