In 2022, authorities shut down the internet across 35 countries — the highest number ever recorded in a single year — at least 187 times. In Eastern European and Central Asia, governments and other actors shut down the internet at least 36 times, across eight countries.
Access Now and the #KeepItOn coalition’s report, Weapons of control, shields of impunity: Internet shutdowns in 2022, reveals and unpacks the global resurgence of internet shutdowns over the span of one catastrophic year for human rights, including in Eastern European and Central Asia. Read the full report, global snapshot, and the Eastern Europe and Central Asia deep dive in English, Ukrainian, Russian, Tajik, and Kazakh.
Conflicts and crises were major shutdown triggers in the region — from Russia’s attacks on Ukraine, to governments’ violent crackdowns on protests across Central Asia, authorities deliberately plunged countries into darkness to silence dissent, disconnect people from each other and the outside world, and evade accountability. Key findings include:
- The totals: at least 187 shutdowns across 35 countries globally, 36 shutdowns across eight countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia;
- The biggest offenders: Russia imposed at least 24 shutdowns — 22 in Ukraine and two on home soil — making it the second biggest offender globally;
- The new offenders: Armenia blocked TikTok to control the flow of information — the first time on record authorities in the country shut down the internet;
- The arsenal: both democracies and autocracies alike in the region increasingly used internet shutdowns in combination with invasive surveillance and repressive legislation, such as foreign agent, anti-bullying, and fake news laws, to criminalise speech, stifle dissent, and hide human rights abuses;
- The impunity: at least 12 of Russia’s 22 shutdowns targeting Ukraine coincided with documented human rights abuses, while, in Kazakhstan, violent crackdown amid internet disruptions during mass protests contributed to the deaths of hundreds of people and imprisonment of thousands;
- The positives: the #KeepItOn coalition grew to over 300 members from 105 countries.
In 2022, governments and other actors shut down the internet across the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region in: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.