Tajikistan blocks Twitter

Updated 22 December 2012
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Tajikistan blocks Twitter

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan: Tajikistan has ordered local Internet providers to block Twitter, one of more than 100 sites including popular Russian-language social networks starting next week, an industry representative told AFP Saturday.
“The (government) communications service has sent Internet companies a huge list of 131 sites that must be blocked in the country from Monday,” said Asomiddin Atoyev, the head of the Tajik association of Internet providers.
“The list includes social networking sites that are actively used by Tajik Internet users including government officials,” Atoyev said.
Among the blocked sites are Vkontakte, or In Touch, and Odnoklassniki, or Classmates, the most popular social networking sites in Russia with many users in the ex-Soviet Union, and Mail.ru, an e-mail service.
“We don’t understand the criteria for drawing up the list and what they are pursuing. The communications service does not give reasons in its letter for blocking the sites,” Atoyev said.
No official at the communications service was available for comment on Saturday.
The Central Asian country bordering Afghanistan lifted only this month a ban on Facebook, which was blocked from late November for almost two weeks on the order of the same state-run communications service.
The service said it blocked Facebook because of a “deluge of lies” and “insults to the head of state and government members.”
But after urging from the United States, the authorities unblocked Facebook in December, saying they had been carrying out “preventative technical” work.
Several news sites, including regional portals Fergana.ru and Centrasia.ru and Russia’s state-owned news agency RIA Novosti, have been blocked in Tajikistan for months.
Local media in Tajikistan avoids criticizing President Emomali Rahmon, who has led the country since 1992, fearing government checks and closure of their publications.
Tajikistan, the poorest ex-Soviet country, has a population of around eight million people, of whom around one million work in Russia, often as laborers. The money they send back home accounts for 40 percent of the country’s GDP.
The country will hold presidential elections next year and many fear the authorities will tighten control on the Internet.
“The next presidential elections will be held in Tajikistan in November 2013, and this will bring even more harsh control of Internet resources and independent media,” predicted the head of the National Association of Independent Media of Tajikistan, Nuriddin Karshiboyev.


Almost $30 million seized in raids linked to Malaysian ex-PM

Updated 3 min 31 sec ago
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Almost $30 million seized in raids linked to Malaysian ex-PM

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian police said Friday they found cash amounting to almost $30 million in a raid on a luxury apartment as they probed corruption allegations swirling around ousted leader Najib Razak.
The money was seized along with 284 boxes containing designer handbags, as well as watches and jewelry from a condominium in Kuala Lumpur, which was raided along with Najib’s home and other sites last week.
Najib’s coalition was thrown out of power for the first time in over six decades in the May 9 poll, defeated by a reformist alliance headed by his former mentor Mahathir Mohamad.
Public disgust at allegations of corruption swirling around Najib was a major factor for the loss, with the ex-leader, his family and cronies accused of looting billions of dollars from sovereign wealth fund 1MDB.
There has been much speculation about what the seized goods consisted of and their value after five trucks were reportedly brought in to help move the vast stash.
Giving an update, the police’s head of commercial crime Amar Singh said: “From the money found, there were 26 currencies, the total amount as of yesterday is 114 million ($28.6 million).”
The money was found in 35 bags while another 37 bags contained watches and jewelry, he told a press conference. The value of other items will be calculated later, he said.
The seizure of the luxury goods added to public scorn of Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor, long reviled by Malaysians for her perceived haughty demeanour and reported vast collection of designer bags, clothing and jewelry.
Her love of overseas shopping trips, as middle class Malaysians struggle with rising living costs, added to a sense of spreading, deeply-entrenched rot in the country’s long-ruling elite.
The couple’s fall from grace has been swift and hard.
They have been barred from leaving the country and the ex-premier has been questioned by anti-graft investigators over claims 1MDB money ended up in his bank accounts, and looks likely to be charged.
Najib and the fund deny any wrongdoing.