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Date: Tue, 6 Jun 2000 20:05:39 -0400
From: Center for Civil Society International
To: Steve Huter , Randy Bush
Subject: [CivilSoc] "Save Internet in Turkmenistan"
The following Press Release is posted on the Web site of the Law and
Environment Eurasia Partnership: www.ecostan.org
PRESS RELEASE, June 5, 2000
SAVE INTERNET IN TURKMENISTAN
Socio-Ecological Union, Catena Ecological Club, and Law and
Environment Eurasia Partnership
In late May the Turkmenistan Ministry of Communication unexpectedly
revoked the licenses of all private Internet providers.
The official reason given for the revocation of licenses was that
providers had falsified information in mandatory reports to the
ministry about the technical and structural details of their
services. In reality, the ministry did not conduct any sort of
verification or investigation of these reports, and the revocation is
merely an arbitrary action by a state agency intended to destroy
overly successful competitors to the lagging state Internet provider.
Moreover, the Ministry of Communication appears to have no regard for
the personal and business losses incurred by the now-closed private
Internet providers and their clients, which include foreign
embassies, the Central Bank, information agencies, NGOs, and trade
The majority of Internet providers obediently suspended service to
their clients and are now calculating their losses. However, the
largest provider, Ariana, Ltd., is still struggling for justice.
Ariana decided not only not to abandon its clients, but also
announced free Internet service until a final decision on its license
is made. Yet, Ariana cannot continue indefinitely to pursue such a
policy, and if a resolution is not engineered by June 9 it will begin
to close the accounts of its users.
Ariana is more than the largest and most dynamic Internet company in
Turkmenistan. It arose out of a 1995 project to provide e-mail to
Turkmenistan NGOs; the project was a joint effort of the local Catena
Ecological Club and the American NGO Sacred Earth Network, funded by
USAID. Thanks to this project, any environmental group with access to
a telephone received free e-mail. What's more, Ariana remained true
to the spirit of its founding. While now a commercial company, Ariana
retains a deep commitment to social justice and building civil
Society in Turkmenistan; it still provides free e-mail and Internet
access to NGOs.
Likewise, on the commercial side, Ariana's clients eagerly extol the
company's user-friendliness and technical sophistication, qualities
that set it apart from the state Internet provider, Turkmen Telecom.
We are continuing our fight to save Ariana and other private Internet
providers, but we need support from outside Turkmenistan. Please find
a few minutes to send a letter or fax of support to Ariana or a
letter of protest to the Ministry of Communication or the President
of Turkmenistan. These can be sent to Ariana at firstname.lastname@example.org
or faxed to Ariana at (99312) 456512.
We retain hope that reason will prevail, but we also know that in
this case we have no guarantees. It is possible to save a shell of
Ariana dedicated to continuing the non-commercial NGO support mission
of the original 1995 project. To do that, we need funds to cover the
fees of the satellite company DataSat, roughly $10,000 to cover June
fees and $3000 per month to cover the lower amount of traffic beyond
June. Ariana staff would continue to act as volunteers, and all funds
would go merely to cover fees of third parties.
Since few or no foundations can react on such short notice, we are
appealing primarily to private donors and businesses to save Internet
Help us prevent the appearance of a new Iron Curtain in our country!
Other correspondence in Russian can be sent to Andrei Zatoka of
Dashkhovuz Ecological Guardians at email@example.com. In
English to Eric Sievers of Law and Environment Eurasia Partnership at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-413-0986.
CivilSoc is a service provided to more than 1,600 subscribers worldwide
by Center for Civil Society International in association with Friends &
Partners. For more information about civic initiatives in Eurasia,
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