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New Turkmen Internet Law Criminalizes Insulting President

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov

Media in Turkmenistan published the text of the new Internet law on December 29, one section of which notes it is now illegal for citizens of the country to insult or slander the country's president in postings on the web.

The new law states that it is intended to ensure free access to the worldwide web for the country's Internet users.

The law then specifies restrictions on accessing information that contains material encouraging minors to use narcotics, alcohol, tobacco products or view sites that reject family values, foment disrespect for parents or justify illegal behavior.

The law also bans Turkmenistan's Internet users from accessing pornographic sites.

Few in Turkmenistan have access to the Internet in their homes.

The Communications Ministry is the country's only provider and while there are some Internet cafes that have opened up since Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov took office in early 2007 they remain prohibitively expensive for most citizens.

Internet cafe users also must provide ID to use computers and their activity online is monitored.

Based on reporting by RIA Novosti and