Kazakhs woke on January 8 to find themselves, for the fourth straight day, cut off from the world. Without an internet connection – essential there, too, for modern services, including paying for goods – many were also beginning to run out of food.
Around 95 percent of internet users in Kazakhstan have been unable for the most part to get online since January 5, according to NetBlocks, a data provider. KazakhTelecom, the state-owned telecommunication giant, began throttling access on January 4 amid nationwide protests that began over fuel prices and quickly swept a nation with longstanding grievances about inequality and corruption.
The worst hit city is Almaty, epicenter of a violent government crackdown that has left dozens dead. Yet even there, several customers of the Russia-owned Beeline mobile service reported they could get online at times, and many sites are blocked. Telephone connections come and go, though data and cellular connections appear to be better in western Kazakhstan, which has been spared the violence. Even government websites have been forced offline.