Chinese-Style Privacy Violations

As a rule, former republics of the Soviet Union have not been particularly good, when it comes to protection of human rights. Ingenious totalitarian leaders of the region have been busy to tighten their control over local population.

 A screenshot of my blocked webpage, displaying the Kazakh decree in action.

For instance, Kazakh authorities have partially banned my site (public servants of the country can’t browse it from their workplaces) according to the Kazakh governmental decree #832, adopted on December 20, 2016. Such insidious, Beijing-style censorship presents a stark contrast to relatively liberal ways of Kazakhstan at the beginning of the 2000s. Thus, an obscure bureaucrat can arbitrarily prohibit one website or another without any court ruling whatsoever.

Well, for the sake of comparison, let’s take a look at the country as of 2003, some twenty years ago. At that time, one freely used an anonymous mobile number. Foreign currency could be officially exchanged without asking for an ID. At authorized stores, non-lethal weapons were sold without a permission. Thus, to some degree, ordinary Kazakh people had certain privacy of their phone conversations and financial transactions along with a right to freely buy defensive non-lethal weapons.

But, the government of Kazakhstan was unhappy with their subjects, enjoying flimsy liberties of a post-Soviet citizen at the dawn of the new century. So, the authoritarian regime has firmly decided to phase out relatively liberal rights of the people. Nowadays, you need to produce your ID in order to change currency. If you buy a SIM-card, then your passport details are also mandatory. A foreign mobile number cannot function in Kazakhstan, unless it is in roaming. An ordinary citizen of Kazakhstan cannot legally buy non-lethal weapons without a permission. You can’t even send a letter from a post office without presenting your ID to a vigilant employee. Such restrictions resemble the totalitarian regime of the mainland China. Even in Russia telecommunications and post-office regulations have not been so tough. Given the pro-Chinese stance of president Tokayev, Chinese-style concentration camps for unruly Kazakhs are looming ahead.  Mandatory finger-printing for those, who receive Kazakh passports and IDs, to be introduced on January 1, 2024 is another harbinger of a local edition of the Brave New World.

Meanwhile, many Kazakhs have to use latrines instead of normal toilets. But, as a rule, even a shoddy grocery store in Kazakhstan is equipped with video surveillance. You can’t buy even a commuter bus ticket without your ID being produced. Even upon a routine visit to obtain one official document or another you are required not only to produce your ID, but also to undergo visual recording to double-check your facial features. Utterly corrupted Chinese, Russian, South Korean, or Turkish companies easily obtain lucrative contracts from Kazakh authorities. However, should you change your name, then you face a complex procedure supervised by national security officers. Last year, impoverished Kazakh pensioners were entitled to get a sumptuos financial aid of some $200 (two hundred). However, in order to obtain such an unheard-of privilege, they had to prove not only their miserable living conditions, but the pensioners also were to certify that they don’t have millionaire cohabitants or relatives.

This is the New Kazakhstan of president Tokayev, where alien Chinese, Indian, and Iranian citizens have been granted visa-free regime, while, for instance, asylum-seeking Kazakh refugees from China have been often denied protection by Kazakh authorities.

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