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Shavkat Sabirov: “The state must protect itself in Internet”

Due to the chairmanship of Kazakhstan in OSCE very different people got opportunity to discuss relevant issues and problems with their foreign colleagues. Thus, the president of internet association of Kazakhstan Shavkat Sabirov participated in review conference in Warsaw. According to him the travel was very busy.

 In his interview to “Liter” the famous expert of Kaznet talked about the themes he debated on with oppositionists, what profit made OSCE to Kazakhstan and why our state is better than Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine and Georgia.  Shavkat Sabirov also mentioned very relevant themes that are discussed in Kazakhstani segment of World Wide Web. All problems can be resolved but one should love and respect his state.

The president of Internet Association of Kazakhstan Shavkat Sabirov carries on quite active business: he protects “Center tyazhesti” from corporate raid, participates in conferences of OSCE, helps deputies at elaboration of laws and manages business. He informs about it in “Twitter”. In the tight schedule Shavkat Sabirov found time for interview to “Liter”.
– Shavkat Umarovich, you went to review conference in Warsaw. What are your impressions?
– I’ve got a lot of impressions. At events like this you understand that you represent both own NGO and entire state. And the thing you are talking about must be relevant and essential. One should manage to express the central idea within short two-three minutes. This is not just round table or get-together. Actually, this is the event of international caliber. There is no more important organization than OSCE on this side of the water. We can debate million times on the fact if the organization is obsolete or not, is profitable or it is time to close it. The main thing is that the system is working. Representatives of OSCE direct delegations, they meet, discuss the hottest problems, the topics of the day. I, for example, liked to listen to opinions of other states in some points at issue. Besides, those who wish had the possibility to talk: civil servants, oppositionists, representatives of non-governmental organizations. To tell the truth, I decided that many came to Warsaw to attract attention to them. They had fierce desire to criticize everything. Criticism for the sake of criticism. No arguments, no concepts. If believe to all what was told, we live in some backward African republic rather than in Kazakhstan. I think than other participants of the conference also drew conclusions from such specifications.
– You must have already answered the question cornering the fact that access to LJ and some sites is locked in Kazakhstan?
– First of all, I am myself against locking. But at the same time I understand that in such a manner the state defends its interests in Internet. Everybody is doing it, even the states which are considered as model of democracy. There is, for example, such site as, which has dozens of thousands of material about the war in Iraq. These are original documents about crimes of the Americans, video files, official reports. And American government does not like it at all. That is why the owner of the site had to transfer last two servers from the USA to Europe and to move to Sweden himself. And no one goes in for dramatics concerning lack of democracy in US. If I live the way I am doing now, not breaking the laws, than no one will prosecute me and will not lock sites. I think a person that distribute in Internet the content, which constitutes a menace to national security, all kinds of wiretaps, secret information, must understand all extent of responsibility. This is the conflict of interests of state and opposition, men and women, fathers and children. The state can’t maintain aloofness. It must always protect itself everywhere, first of all in Internet. If the state does not protect itself, anarchy will come. No one wants it. At the same time the state policy in the sphere of e-Media must be more flexible and more politic. For example, news on channels, in newspapers, in internet and information agencies is dedicated to the state only. On the screens one can see ministers, akims and deputies. We have no gutter journalism, we do not discuss lives of celebrities, we are not interested in culture and we give less attention to sport. It seems like the state finances only those projects that concern only civil servants. This is wrong. The state must develop any other content. I think the problem is that the state speak only about itself rather that they press opposition. In Internet, for example, there is no the Kazakh language at all. We can speak about it as many as we wish but nothing will change. Now we work with the Ministry of culture concerning it. The corresponding program is under preparation. And without environment and communication it is impossible to study language.
– There are experts that are inclined to the fact that we do not need such organization as OSCE: many words and little business. Do you agree?
– Today this organization is the standard of democracy. No matter in what state election are held, people wait for estimation of OSCE. The organization actively tries to assist in conflict resolution. The example with Kyrgyzstan is demonstrational. The regular revolution happened there, and during the shortest terms the representative of OSCE was directed there, moreover OSCE still renders its support. Representative and consultants are still there. But they refused the help of policemen. So, OSCE is international mechanism that allows assessing the activity of this or that state and lending its shoulder if necessary. Of course, announcement of OSCE following the results of elections are not liked by many. Many also dislike the decisions of UN Security Council. But we cannot live without international mechanisms. Today everybody understands that we need serious integration. Now when Kazakhstan heads the organization the world has the possibility to know us better. In Warsaw we were invited to the Center of oriental studies that collects information for Polish government and the Orient. We asked where they get data. The answer was the following: from Internet. And I understood why the West has so many delusions concerning Kazakhstan. No one wants to come here, see everything with his own eyes and get some authentic information. Then we were asked about the most popular stereotype about Kazakhstan in the West. How do you think?
Borat Sagdiev, the journalist from Kazakhstan.
– Something like that. I think the main mistake is that Kazakhstan is conceived like a hindward country. Now when we are heading OSCE many have realized that actually Kazakhstan has many professionals. This is an opportunity for us to show human and intellectual resources. That is great advantage for Kazakhstan. I am sure that after 2010 no one will think about making “Borat 2”. We were really appreciated. And we will understand it neither today nor tomorrow but in several years when the economic effect from our international activity appears.
– What topic was mostly focused on in Warsaw?
– There were many different topics there. As I said before, the discussions had poor facts. For example, they announce that Nazarbaev is already 20 years in power, is it democratically? Than see what happened during these 20 years. Today we must be thankful to the president because Kazakhstan has such results during these years, because we did not turn to Kyrgyzstan that is overtaken by revolutions and demolitions, we avoided fate of Ukraine where common people suffer from political struggle. We did not become Georgia that started war with Russia. 20 years ago we had the same possibilities. And we differently lived that time. Now it is clear. And I took the floor on this issue: I, for example, like our president! Why today we must await that in the West we will be criticized for that. I don’t really like our strange self-esteem. When we stand near a citizen of Kyrgyzstan we are so proud that we are so clever and rich. А and against Europeans and Americans we seem to be smaller. What if they criticize us since we have another democracy, we live the wrong way, we use internet incorrectly.
By the way, regarding Internet. I think, many will agree that we use it not the way we should. The whole world uses Internet to pay taxes, communicate in real-time mode with high-ranking officials and watch the work of state agencies. And we use it to enter “Odnoklassniki”.
We also can pay taxes and address to the prime-minister and state agencies with different proposals on the site of “e-government”. One should only have digital signature. So I decided to have such “document”. I spent 2 months but did not fix the signature. This is, I think, the main problem. And our mentality, of course. Our people do not believe that the system is working and they keep on criticizing it. The only obstacle is the signature. Though the world can do without it. There are many means that help to authorize very fast and securely. By the way, anyone can write a complaint to any of the ministers. They even find it “fashionable” to be online. Tablet computers are bought smartphones
– Another difference of our Internet from foreign is legal framework. How do you estimate rights observance in Kaznet?
– Actually, there is a good European experience. For example, in the Netherlands they have a program on combating hatred in network. There is such direction in OSCE. It is necessary to share information, to study experience. That is why I went to Warsaw. Also we extremely need the law about e-commerce, so that we could to legalize dealings realized Internet, make them official. Today, for example, we can buy air ticket staying at home. But if one needs to attach invoice to the ticket for accounting department, it is necessary to go to the office of the airlines. Another thing is that there are no copyrights in Kaznet, and this also should be regulated by law. If it does not interfere, the situation will lead to complete piracy and chaos. And the most important moment is to determine what internet business in Kazakhstan is. Today to carry on business in Network, it is necessary to have domain name that is given for a year or two, resource-hardware, software, etc. And the third is the company that manages all this. These three compounds neither determined nor agreed upon by anyone. Today we reap the fruits of this mess that led to conflict concerning popular forum “Center tyazhesti”. The managing company intends to take the domain name, equipment (which is leased), and software, though it has impeachable motives. Here is the simple example. We have the same relations in housing maintenance and utilities. Internet resource is our house, equipment and software is our apartments, and managing company is that condominium services the house. Yard-keeper brooms the yard, sanitary technician repairs pipes, and electrician changes lamps in doorway. And suddenly representative of condominium come to your place and on the basis of the concluded agreement on servicing the house evicts you and offers to divide property: room and kitchen to you; balcony, bathroom and hallway to them. The representative of condominium came to “Center tyazhesti”. And the court sided with condominium. Thank god, in real life condominium does not evict us. But such things are possible in Internet. This happens because our courts do not know what laws rely on when they make decisions. I respect our court and work of judges very much. New sphere of business, new terms, new legal interrelations in Internet, they just lack information. And if today “center tyahesti” is given to managing company or forced to divide everything fifty-fifty, than it will create a very dangerous precedent. This precedent will have an impact on Kazakhstani segment of Internet and its development.
– Many people say that Kaznet is developing very slowly and falls behind Runet. And here we do nothing to change situation.
– The situation is changing, and now I can recite all drawbacks of Kazakhstani Internet during two hours. But why should I? Let’s talk in a constructive way. The situation is that actually we do not master all information about Kaznet. We must know how many active and passive sites we have, how many site are in the Kazakh, Russian and English languages. Finally, where do we host, in Kazakhstan, the USA, Almaty, Houston? When we have all data in our hands, we can draw conclusions that this month we increased in this much, next month made ten steps back and so on. And now we can only characterize in general what is going on in Kaznet. That is why I would barely expose everything negatively. Today we have all we need: mail, search, social networks, blog-platforms. They are not so popular as foreign ones but we have them. We are developing. Just see how popular yvision blog-platform today!
– How do you think, will there be the moment when Kazakhstani people start using mainly local resources rather than foreign?
– I do not think it is a problem that we use “Odnoklassiki”, Facebook and Google. This is not a tragedy. Finally, according to the Constitution of Kazakhstan each has the right to choose where to “go”. No problem that Kazakhstani people visit Russian internet resources, the problem is that the owner of the resource takes away the content, server and “leaves” Kazakhstan. The slogan of JSC “Kazakhtelecom” is indicative here: “Come back home!” and many have already come back. They intercommunicate at local blog-platforms, actively right comments, discuss topics of the day, make friends and fall in love. Or, for example, much money is spent to support mail service And great effort is expended to provide necessary protection and servicing. Yes, they have a small market share but they are working like professionals. I do not think that popularity of or in Kazakhstan insult somehow our national pride. The market will put everything into perspective. Our task is to strive for the better samples and make Kazakhstani content be in demand from outside. I am sure that the day will come when we know only the address of “e-government” and phone number, intercommunicate in the Kazakh language in Internet, buy and sell in Internet all services and goods and we will have our own “Odnoklassniki”. It is necessary to love and respect the state! Just love and respect...

Mikhail KOZACHKOV, Almaty